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May 19th, 2015 | Posted by Getsu in Short Story - (0 Comments)


This is the second story that I worked on throughout my Narrative Writing course. I don’t think it’s completely finished, but this is what I submitted as my final draft for the course.




I met Alondra through my friend Dan at a party near Mountain View. Dan told me that she was kind of an awkward prude, and that if anyone could crack her it would be me. I sat on a couch with her and talked all night. She was one of the sweetest people I’d ever met, and I couldn’t help but ask her to come home with me. After we ended up at my place she told me that she didn’t have sex with people she didn’t know. I said we should get to know each other. She told me that she was usually really shy, but there was something about me that just got her to open up.

She was born in Guadalajara and came to the US with her mom when she was six. They were running from her abusive dad, and once they were here her mom remarried and had more kids. She loved her step dad: he’d been the perfect husband and father in her eyes, he was a santo sent to care for them. She wanted to find a man as good as him to settle down with. I didn’t know what she saw in me. She asked me about my favorite memory of my parents. I told her that I’d suffered from insomnia my whole life. I had serious nightmares that kept me up, so when I was younger my mom would sit with me until I fell asleep. She would open the curtains in the room and tell me the moon would keep me company after she was gone. I started to hum my mom’s lullaby to her. She fell asleep holding my hand. I stayed on the floor next to my bed and caressed her back. Eventually I fell asleep too, and slept soundly for the first time in weeks.

Over the next two days I cut off all of the women I’d been fucking. I sent them all personalized texts that said the same thing more or less: I found someone that I can actually see myself settling down with. It was kind of short sighted when I’d known Alondra less than 48 hours at the time, but I wanted to be the guy that was good enough to remind her of her step dad. I knew I could do it, and she was the innocent type that I could bring home to mom’s. Hell, even dad would approve of a güerita as nice as Alondra.

I actually asked her if she wanted to visit home with me after just two weeks of knowing her. That’s the clingy shit that I’ve dumped other women for, but I wanted to show mom that I was good enough to be with a woman she’d approve of. Alondra was super excited that I asked her. We made the drive down to Monterey on a Sunday morning, and got there in time to join my parents for noon mass. I’d never been a good Católico, but Alondra was more than happy to join my parents. I just wanted to impress her with them and them with her. After mass I drove us all back to my parents’ house and we made carne asada in the backyard. Alondra awkwardly shared stories about Mexico with dad. He was excited that she’d grown up in the same city as him and kept talking while she nodded her head. Mom was better at getting her to be comfortable and they bonded about teaching. Dad took me to a bench under his old pear tree and told me that he was glad I’d found a good güerita and hadn’t settled down with any of the indias I’d been seeing. He told me to hold onto this one. Before we left, mom pulled me aside and said, “Treat her right, hijo. Make sure you’re happy too.”

On the drive back to San Jose Alondra said, “Your parents seem nice. I’m glad you invited me.” They really liked you, I told her. “I really liked them too,” she responded. “You don’t talk about your dad much, but he’s such a nice man.”

“My dad is an ass,” I said too defensively. I had so many memories of him abusing mom and me. He’d gotten better over the years, and I tried hard to love him. In my college years I understood him better, I forgave him for almost everything. I saw so much of his machismo in myself and the way I treated women though. Deep down I blamed him for every relationship that had gone to hell. “Sorry. He’s just… We didn’t have the best relationship when I was a kid.” I stared ahead at the road. She stared at me. There was an expectant silence. “He’s fine,” I said before putting on some music. We drove the rest of the way in silence.


Alondra and I started seeing each other more after that. I picked her up from work at the Saint Leo School on my way home from the Mercury News offices, and we made dinner together at my place. It was nice: we’d just sit together and talk or listen to music. She introduced me to Ed Sheeran’s music and told me if I didn’t love it we wouldn’t work out. One night we were cuddled up listening to an album of his,and she started singing along, “maybe you should learn to love her, like the way you want to be loved.” I asked her how she wanted to be loved. She looked at me and caressed my face before kissing me lightly. “I guess… I want a man that really cares. I want someone who wants to be a good father, someone to build a family with.” I didn’t tell her that that wasn’t what I wanted: I wasn’t ready for a family. I wanted to find someone to have fun with and to grow with. I couldn’t tell her that though. I told her that sounded like a good way to be loved and kissed her long and hard.

Alondra didn’t like me partying with Dan. She thought he was too much of a pothead, and didn’t want me to do drugs with him. Instead she started to invite over friends to my place. Her parties consisted of dinner, wine, and small talk; it was a lot classier than anything I’d ever done. The first time we did that Alondra took her friends up to my room to show off the drawer of stuff that she had in there. It was like she was domesticating me and showing off the tricks that she’d taught me.

On those tipsy nights I started trying to be more physical in bed. I craved the intimacy and passion, but she was uncomfortable with it. Before her I was with women who craved sex as much as I did; Emma, the beautiful Uruguayan, was so good that my roommates didn’t get any sleep on nights she came over. I asked Alondra if we could start to be physical with each other, and she said we weren’t ready for that. She wasn’t sure about her feelings for me. Things were moving too fast for her. I’d given up my lifestyle to try to be good enough for her, and she couldn’t even decide how she felt about me. Fuck that shit. I wasn’t ready for a boda or an esposa, I just wanted to have a good night.

One night after we got back to my place from a show at the Shark Tank she jumped on me. I was a little drunk, so she easily pushed me onto my bed and tossed my clothes away. Alondra took off her clothes and laid down. I cautiously inched my hands across her body. She was blushing and refused to make eye contact. I slowly turned her towards me and kissed her. I should have been all over her, but in that moment I couldn’t. It felt wrong to touch her and see her squirm. When I touched her breast she flinched back and grimaced. I pulled my hand away, but she grabbed it and pressed it against her chest. She still looked so uncomfortable. I wanted her to be enjoy it, but she was forcing herself through it.

“Keep going,” she said while she pulled me close. She reached down between my legs and grabbed my dick too roughly. I gasped in pain, but she was too focused to notice. I pushed her hand off of me and started to put it in myself. “It’s my first time. Can you go slow,” she asked. She closed her eyes and turned away from me. I tried to back off, but she said, “This is what you’ve wanted. Just go slow.” I pushed into her slowly, but she started crying. “It hurts.” I stopped and got away from her. I asked her how she was feeling, but she didn’t respond. She pulled her clothes back on and whimpered out, “why do people like sex?”

“It feels good if you do it more. It’ll stop hurting.” I caressed her back and kissed her forehead. She shouldn’t hate her first time so much. Her first time should have been special at least, and now she might hate sex entirely because of me. “I’m sorry I hurt you. Maybe we can try again some other time?”

“I only did it because you’re the sweetest guy I’ve ever been with, and I know you’ve wanted to. I don’t think I like it.” I sat on the floor next to her. I asked her how she was feeling again and offered to get her something. She didn’t say anything. I felt like an asshole. I didn’t deserve Alondra: she’d given so much, and I kept pushing for more.

The next night I partied with my old group of friends because Alondra said she was sick. She wanted me to go out and have a good time, and I was in the mood to take that for what it was worth. I called up Dan and he got me crossed before I even finished telling him about the last few weeks. Bruh, you’re whipped, he said. You managed to get into that prude’s pants, and I’m just trying to help you get some good pussy while you’re free.

We ended up at a party near Downtown that was bumpin, even by my standards. It was some basement turned club shit going on. I found Kim, a woman I’d been interested in before Alondra, on the dance floor. I knew I shouldn’t do anything with her (or anyone), but I wanted to feel someone’s body (anyone’s) next to mine. I wanted to feel her quiver with pleasure at my touch. I asked her to dance with me. She just kind of smiled and pulled me close. She started to grind up against me and bit her lip when she looked up at me. She kept dancing on me, and then went in for a kiss. I obliged. It was fun, but I started to think about Alondra. I knew it was wrong. Then she tiptoed and said, “Let’s get out of here.” She didn’t have to tell me twice.

When we were half way to my place, she suddenly turned me to her, pulled my face down, kissed me hard, and rubbed one of her hands over my crotch. Just as quickly, she pushed me away and walked on while I stood there licking my lips for the leftover taste of her.

We got to my place and I led her up to my room. My roommates’ doors were closed and their lights were off, better that no one knew it wasn’t Alondra coming home with me. We got into my room and I looked Kim up and down: she was a small woman, no taller than five foot four, and beautiful. She was about the same skin tone as I am, and I’m pretty moreno. She had long dark hair and her smile was a burst of white that broke out from her dark face.You sure about this, I asked her. “No shit”, she responded and pulled me back down to her.

Kim knew what she was doing. She tore our clothes off and pulled me onto my bed. Our mouths were too busy to do any talking, and our hands followed suit. I used my mouth on her perky breasts, and she asked me to finger her. I worked my way down and started eating her out. I asked her what kinds of things she liked, and she moaned out, “I don’t even care. This is amazing.” She put both hands on the back of my head and pushed me straight onto her. She asked me to get a condom. I thought of Alondra, but I got a condom anyway. We fucked hard until I ran out of condoms.

That morning I woke up, saw her next to me, and cuddled up with her. She told me she had to go, so I started making out with her again. She asked, “Is this your way of saying ‘Don’t go.’?” I just kept kissing her. She left without any of my roommates seeing her.

At noon I took Alondra some medicine and tissues. She didn’t seem to be very sick, so I sat with her for a bit and told her parts about the night before. I mentioned getting real crossed and that my friends and I were in some high school mood and played spin the bottle before heading off to a party. I joked about one of my guy friends feeling me up and kissing on my neck to explain the hicky I had. She took it all in with laughs and a few playful slaps on the hand. She kept mentioning how crazy I was, and in the next breath how nice I was for trying to help her feel better. I left as soon as she told me I could go.

I sent Kim a text after that. I asked her if she wanted to talk about what happened. She replied saying that she had a good time but wasn’t looking for anything serious. I playfully replied that she was great company and let the conversation die off.

I called my mom up that night. She told me about abuela and how she couldn’t work anymore. She’d had another surgery. Mom asked about Alondra. I told her she wasn’t feeling well. She said to take care of her. That was mom’s go to when I talked about relationships. She told me stories of dad treating her like shit when I was younger. He was the type to chase after sucias; to hurt mom in one moment and claim he loved her in the next. I’d hated him for it my whole life. I wanted to be better than he had ever been. Mom said, “Cuidala. She’s a good one,” then hung up.

That night I had my first nightmare since meeting Alondra. I was sitting alone in a dark room. The twin sized bed I was in felt huge. Outside the window a darkness spread across the sky and absorbed every trace of moonlight. A huge tree was swaying back and forth in the storm. I didn’t want to look, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away. The tree’s limbs molded themselves into a face, a smile. Lightning crisscrossed the sky. I jumped backwards and ran for the door. I beat on it with all my might, but my tiny arms didn’t even make a dent. The darkness outside started to come in through the window. I put the door to my back and watched the shadows cross the room slowly behind. The tree started laughing and said, Real men don’t hurt, they aren’t so emotional. It continued to laugh. The room faded almost completely into darkness. A flash of lightning revealed hands reaching out towards me. I woke up in a fetal position with tears on my face and my pillow soaked. I turned on the light and tried to go back to sleep. I just watched my room’s window until dawn light streamed in.

The next day I finished up writing an article and went straight to Alondra’s from the Mercury. Her face lit up when I walked in. She started brushing at her hair with her hands, saying that she knew she looked terrible. I stood by the door and didn’t take off my coat. I knew I wouldn’t be staying long. I told her I fucked up. I told her another woman spent the night on Saturday. I waited for her to yell at me, to throw something, to call me a sucio; she just kept smiling at me.

“I’m not mad,” she said. “I told you we’re not really dating.” She waited a second, then asked, “Nothing actually happened, right?” Her eyes flashed with momentary sadness – a vulnerability that betrayed her feelings despite saying she wasn’t sure – when she said the last part. She wanted this, she wanted me. I wasn’t sure that we could make it work, but I couldn’t hurt her. I lied to her. I told her that we hadn’t done more than kiss. She thought on it for a second, then she said, “That’s fine. We haven’t figured this out.” She reached out for my hand. I pulled back.

I saw an out. I could play this out and end things without being the bad guy. I didn’t want to tell her the whole truth, but I would if it came to that. I just needed her to be mad at me for being an idiot.

“What are we doing, Alondra?”

“I’m not sure. I’m not mad because I want to make this work… but I’m not sure that you do. What do you want, Damian?”

“I made a mistake, Alondra.” In my mind I saw her repeatedly flinching away from me. Imagined the feeling of that night after night. Of never feeling wanted. “I don’t want to hurt you anymore. We’ll do whatever you want. I’ll try to make this work if you want to, but if not I can leave you alone.”

“I need time to think. Maybe we can make this work. I just need a bit of space for now. ”

“That’s fine.” I wasn’t sure what I wanted her to decide. I knew that I cared about her, but I didn’t know if I wasn’t what she wanted. I didn’t want to do anything to hurt her or end up alone again. I didn’t want to end things myself. She could do so much better than me. She just had to realize that.


I talked to Dan and Flor about Alondra over lunch at Pizza my Heart. Alondra and I had sex on Friday night, she was a virgin. Then I cheated on her with Kim on Saturday, I told them. Bruh, Dan asked, really? You fucked Alondra and Kim? You’re such a legend, he exclaimed while reaching out for a high five. Flor was pissed.

“You’re such a pendejo,” she started. “I thought you were better than that, Damian.” She slapped me. I started to say something, but she slapped me again. “Don’t say shit. It wouldn’t surprise me if Dad did something like this. Sorry,” she said to Dan before continuing (he just nodded his head and smiled). “You though. You’ve talked about being better, about finding something real. You’re just like the rest though. You’re just like your dad.”

I remembered all the times that dad beat me. He would get home angry from work. I don’t remember him ever hitting mom. He’d yell at her, but he never touched her. She’d still cry to me about the things he said, and I’d cry to her when he hit me. Mom told me once that she would have left him if not for me, and that I was the best part of her life. All I heard was that her suffering was because of me. Everything that he had done to her was my fault. I was his son, and just by existing I hurt people I cared about.

“Flor, I felt like an asshole the night we had sex. I tried to back off, and she told me she knew it was what I wanted. I was going to be an asshole no matter what I did: either I take her virginity or I stop her advances after months of pushing for it. The next night I just wanted to feel wanted. I wanted someone to want me to touch them. I tried to make it right too. I told Alondra about Kim and she wasn’t even mad. She said we’re not really dating.”

Flor looked confused for a second before looking even more mad. “That doesn’t change anything. You still fucked up. You did. Not her. She tried to give you what you wanted. Poor girl probably thought that it would keep you around.” I tried to say something, but Flor was on a roll. “You always do this. You jump head first into something and then you decide you don’t really want it. You find something – anything – that is even a little wrong, and you blow it up in your head. You find a reason to run away.” Flor knows me well enough to understand how I act. I’ve told her that my greatest fear in life is to end up completely alone. Everyone I know will eventually figure out that I’m an asshole that should be alone. When I feel particularly alone I have the same nightmares I had as a kid. When I’m in relationships I don’t feel so alone, so I deal with the loneliness by keeping someone around. I find a woman, I start something, I find a reason to run away, I feel lonely, and I repeat. Women help me build a flame to ward off my demons, but I never really give them my all.

I already knew that I had fucked up, but Flor was the person that kept me grounded. I knew that I’d really made a mistake when she was upset with me. “I know you’re hurting, but I’m not sorry. You’re an hombre, but you’re a good hombre. I’m hard on you because we both know you’re better than this,” Flor said while collecting her things from the table. She left without saying another word, and Dan chased after her. I finished my lunch alone.

The next couple of days were hard. The nightmares were consistent again.


That Friday I met up with Dan to go to an SJ Improv comedy show. I saw Flor standing by the main entrance with another woman. She introduced us, saying that her friend’s name was Iris. She was a short and cute negrita. I made an effort to try to talk to her, but Flor kept glaring at me. As we walked into the show Dan whispered to me, I’ll keep Flor busy. Do you, bruh.

Iris sat with me, and asked what I did for a living. I’m a reporter at the Mercury News, I told her. “You’re a writer,” she asked excitedly before telling me about her love of literature. She told me that she thought about stories while writing code for software and spent her free time writing out her ideas in an old notebook. I told her about my attempts to write fiction, and we bonded over how tiring the editing process is. The comedian took the stage just as she was telling me about her favorite books.

The show was funny enough. I appreciated the comedians sense of humor; he made a lot of jokes similar to shows I’d seen from George Lopez. Most of his act had to do with Mexican parents: he joked about getting beat as a kid, about machismo and men always cheating, and about the expectations that Mexican mom’s put on their kids. Iris was laughing just as much as I was. At one point she leaned over and said something to me in Spanish. I didn’t even hear her, but the fact that it was Spanish got me going crazy.

After the comedy show I walked towards the bus stop with them. Say what you will about New York and LA, but San Jose is beautiful at night in a way neither of those cities ever could be. Downtown has a way of looking traditional with pieces of Spanish architecture and modern with its skyscrapers. On the same street you have a taste of history and the future. New York is too busy running into the future that it’s selling to everyone to have a history, and LA would much rather toke up on Venice Beach than deal with its problems. San Jose is a city that feels like home to an educated Chicano.

When we got to the bus stop Flor told us that she and Iris were headed home. Dan told them, Damian and I are headed to a party a few streets down. Iris smiled at me and said, “I think I’m gonna go with them, Flor. I’ll see you later?” They hugged and then Flor gave me a hug. She whispered, “Don’t you even dare.” I smiled at her, raised my eyebrows, and bit my lower lip as I turned to walk away.

We found the house easily enough, and made our way inside. There was a decent group of people, and Dan made his way to who I assumed was the host. I sat next to Iris on a couch. Dan made us some weird mix drinks and took hits from a bong that he passed us. Iris and I talked about dorky shit, but she was more open, probably due to the alcohol and weed. At some point she told me we should head out. I wasn’t going to argue. We laughed at how evidently high both of us were in only the way two very high people can. We heard someone talking in Russian and she got really excited. She told me that she’d studied Russian back in college, and she tried to translate for me. The Russians were drunk, otherwise they might have taken offense to our actions. Instead they turned around, exclaimed something to her, and then offered us a swig of the tequila they had.

Somehow we made it back to her place in one piece. We sat on the stoop in front of her building and kept talking.

“Flor told me to stay away from you. You don’t seem like that much of a pendejo though,” she said with a smile.

“Flor has just known me a long time. Old friends are really judgemental, ya’know?” I was trying to focus and not slur my words.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to call you a pendejo. You were telling me about you favorite book?”

I told her that To Kill a Mockingbid was my go to classic favorite. She said that hers was Middlesex. “It could help you with the story about your grandma and mom that you’re working on,” she told me. Then we just kind of spiraled into a billion different ideas that we both had. Neither of us could keep track of the conversation and we kept forgetting what we were talking about and moving on. It didn’t matter: even a conversation about Superman vs. Batman (Which I hated. Batman obviously wins, he’s fucking Batman) would have been enjoyable. The only thing that got me was her habit of apologizing for things incessantly. I told her she didn’t have to be sorry for everything. “Sorry, I’ll stop being sorry,” she responded.

At about four in the morning she told me that she needed to go to sleep. I didn’t want to push things too much, so I asked if it would be too forward to ask for a kiss goodnight. She told me it would. She gave me a hug, smiled at me for a moment, and then went up to her apartment. I stood staring at the door for longer than I’m willing to admit. I was hoping she’d come back out and it could just continue. She didn’t, it didn’t, I left. There were no nightmares that night. I dreamt of her.

The next night I went out to party again. It wasn’t anything special. I was thinking of Iris, so I stayed away from any woman I wasn’t friends with. At one in the morning I got a text from Alondra. I want to see you. It took me all of three minutes to get my things and leave. I rushed to her place. When I got there I waited for my breath to come under control and I knocked. She was drunk. She invited me in and we went straight to her room. She’d changed her decorations again: every time she was upset she changed the pictures in the frames on the nightstand. The ones of us had been replaced by pictures of her and her siblings at the beach.

She sat me at the foot of her bed and she went to her pillows. I knew I shouldn’t be there, and she knew it too. We talked for a while like nothing had changed. We were friendly in that moment. She made note of how high I was. I told her I was fine, but she insisted that I had overdone it.

We didn’t talk about us. The topic would have ruined the comfort we’d both reclaimed with each other. We just pretended nothing had changed. It got to be late, really late. I knew I had to leave, but she kept saying I was in no condition to leave. I told her it was fine and that I could take care of myself. She started crying then, “I don’t want you to go.” I’ve never been able to ignore a woman’s tears. I held mom’s hand through the nights that she’d actually broken down into tears. I couldn’t leave then. I took her in my arms and let her cry onto my chest. I kissed her on the forehead. “I love you,” she looked up at me. I lied and said I loved her too.

I slept with her in my arms. She was drunk, and I was high. That was no way to build love. Even if she was sleeping next to me, I was still alone. I tried to sleep, but I woke up shaking. I still felt the hands on me. My legs felt bruised and tired. I heard the tree’s laugh echoing in the dark room. I cried until my eyes were dry. After that I just sat with her in my arms. I cursed myself for being my father’s son.

When she woke up she stared at me and caressed my face. “You didn’t sleep.”

“I couldn’t sleep.”


I considered telling her everything. Telling her that I was sorry. Begging her to work through it all with me. “I just couldn’t sleep,” I said.

She continued staring in silence. “I need time to think.” I told her that was alright.

I went home. Everything was dull. Feelings from the past two nights swirled into a mess. The world was in greyscale. I wanted to sleep, not because I was tired, because I didn’t want to be conscious. I knew I was hurting, but it didn’t seem that important. Nothing did. I just wanted to lay in bed and ignore the world. What I felt in that moment was not sadness, it was a contradiction to every worthy aspect of life. The darkness crept into my room. It came through the window, and inched across the room towards me. I told myself I’d wake up eventually, but I was awake. I cut at my arm with the pocket knife on my keys. I tried to cut deep. I wanted to feel the pain. I wanted to punish myself for all the harm I’d done. Pain was the only feeling I deserved. It covered up the loneliness, sent it away, and with it the darkness receded into the corners of the room. The pain kept me grounded. It reminded me that I was alive.


A few days later I made Iris dinner in my aparment. We both laughed at the vague memories from the last time we were together. “I don’t remember much, it’s like Will Smith used a neuralyzer on me,” she professed. I asked if that meant I was in the clear for being so forward. With a bite on her lower lip she said, “I remember that.” She looked away from me. I couldn’t stop staring at her, but she seemed suddenly uncomfortable. She looked away from me.

“That’s a fancy bottle of tequila,” she said in reference to the unopened bottle of Don Julio.

“My dad gave it to me on my 21st birthday. It’s just been sitting there for five years.”

“Does tequila age well?”

“It doesn’t really change at all. I just have some bad memories associated with that kind.”

“Crazy nights in college,” she asked with a laugh.

“No,” the bottle was clear and held a gold liquid. It was one of the fancier bottles as far as tequila went. It even had a cork instead of a cap. It was dad’s favorite kind of tequila. “My dad used to drink it a lot. I used to look forward to him getting drunk on it. He only had it when he was in a good mood, and then he’d be drunk and super loving. He’d forcefully tuck me in when he said it was my bed time, then he’d just sit on my bed and tell me stories. It was the only time he told me he loved me. I’ve just never wanted to drink something that made my dad so weird.”

There was a moment of silence. I’d said too much. Iris would think that I was too emotional. I was going to scare her away. Instead, Iris smiled at me. “I understand. Thanks for sharing that with me.” I felt confused and relieved, but most of all just happy. I smiled back at her.

We got back into the rhythm of things. I told her I’d been reading a lot of Junot Diaz lately. I pulled out my phone to show her pieces of writing I’d really liked. She read one and just said, “Damn”. She handed back my phone and we talked on about something else. Then she stopped me.

“Seriously though. Like, damn. That line is beautiful, and real, and I just can’t get over it.”

“I know. I wish I was that good.”

“Well this is why you’re a journalist and he’s teaching at MIT,” she said with a playful laugh.

“Damn. That was harsh,” I said smiling back at her.

“Sorry. I’m sure you’re good at other things.” She winked at me.

Iris was smart and funny, and I really enjoyed her company. I hadn’t felt that comfortable with someone in a long time. There was just this back and forth between us that made me feel like I could be me and she actually enjoyed my company as much as I did hers. With Alondra I’d had to force so much.

I walked her home again. When we got to her apartment there was a moment of awkward expectation. I asked if I could give her a kiss good night. She looked away for a moment.

“Ok. So here’s the thing. I’m in an open relationship. I don’t really know how this is supposed to work.” She wasn’t quite rejecting me, but I didn’t know how I felt about being involved with someone in an open relationship. I was still traditional in some ways, but I didn’t want to give up the happiness I felt around her. I apologized for being so forward and said that I was sorry if I made her uncomfortable. She asked for a hug, and then I left.

We kept talking after that. Over text we said what we couldn’t in person: I liked her, and she liked me. There was room in her relationship for something between us. Our conversations were fun. One time we continually sent each other stupid memes. After a whole day of that I responded to her image of Admiral Ackbar with a message that read I love you. I know, she responded.

I kept having nightmares despite getting closer with Iris. I still felt alone. We might act like a couple with each other, but she had someone else. I was just consolation while she was away from her boyfriend; that thought ate away at my happiness. Each night I was dragged further into the dark. I took to rubbing my arm when I felt the edges of reality start to blur. I could feel myself on the brink of tears each time. One moment I’d be sitting at my desk trying to finish up a work email, the next I would be shaking. My breathing would quicken, my heart would race, my leg would jump uncontrollably. If I looked away from the monitor I could barely see the room around me. At that point I closed my eyes and gripped my left arm with all the strength I could manage. The raised lines of blood on my otherwise smooth skin reminded me of pain. I controlled my breathing, I forced down my leg, I took control. It didn’t put me back in a good place, but it got me out of a bad place. That was enough. The only objective was to survive, happiness could be dealt with later.

For a couple of weeks I spent as much time as I could alone. Iris left on a short vacation to see her boyfriend across the country, so I couldn’t see her even if I wanted to. I still talked to her just as much, but I was focusing on me. On weekdays I spent my free time lifting or reading. The pain of lifting was different than taking a knife to myself, but it was more than enough to keep me grounded. It was the first step: I had to remind myself that I wasn’t dead yet. Shit could still hurt, and putting 315 pounds on my back was an easy way to make that very clear. On weekends I stopped going out so much. I started to go on runs and hikes again. That was the kind of solitary thing that made me feel like I wasn’t just isolating myself. I went out into the redwoods in Santa Cruz, or into the hills around Hollister. I would just run until I found a spot that was quiet in the way of people, but loud in the ways of nature. Then I would sit and listen. Maybe I was going crazy, maybe I’d always been crazy.

I could hear the wind whispering. Some days it was louder, a jovial child messing up my hair and throwing loose flowers my way. It would carry the smell of mountain lilies to me. I could sit in the same spot and smell every flower on those damn mountains. I could see it running from patch to patch, carrying with it the pollen that would make the mountain bright next Spring. When the wind was less energetic I could still feel the caress of the Earth. It was stable below me and offered unwavering support. I could trust it to catch me. Only thing that mattered then was that days got easier; I could taste life with every breath.


Alondra called me three weeks after our last meeting. It was a Friday night and she wanted to come over. I wanted to salvage our relationship, to be everything for someone. I told her I’d be waiting, and an hour later she was sitting with me in my room. “I thought of you tonight. I miss you,” she reached out for my hand. I was glad to see her. I took her hand in mine. We talked for a while and then she wanted to play Mario Kart. She wasn’t very good at it, but she loved swinging the Wii controls around. When she won games she would jump up on my bed and cheer out as if she’d just opened a pack of Magic and found a Black Lotus. Those were the moments that made me fall for her in the first place.

She asked to stay the night. I should have asked her to leave, but I had hope that we could fix this. She said she just wanted to sleep, but we ended up having sex for the second time ever that night. It was was just as awkward for both of us. As soon as we finished she pulled her clothes back on and got in bed.

“Why did we have sex instead of sleeping,” she asked me when I got in bed with her. I thought you wanted to, I replied. “I did, but we could have just slept.” Things hadn’t changed. We still wanted different things. I held her tight. I got myself to sleep. I didn’t have nightmares.

I woke up early and left for a run without waking Alondra. I found the high I was looking for, and I ignored the passing city blocks. I ran towards the mountains that are constant companions in a valley. They’re always so close and so far. I just picked one and ran at it while I thought. I regretted how the night with Alondra had gone, but I saw a chance to make things better. I had one last opportunity to be good enough for her. I needed to be better starting now.

Alondra was gone when I got back to my apartment. My bed was done and on top of it was a note. It read:

I’m sorry about last night. I just needed to see you one last time. I decided that we can’t see each other anymore. We’re not good for each other. We want different things. Maybe I was trying to convince myself it could work last night, but it can’t. We both know that. Please, don’t call me anymore.

  • Alondra


I wasn’t surprised that she decided to be done with me. I checked her drawer. It was empty. This is what I had pushed her towards, but it still hurt. I dug my teeth into lower lip. I tasted iron and salt. I cut my lip, it’s okay to cry. I ran out the door and kept going until I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. I slept like a borracho that night.

I called mom at the end of that week. We talked for a while. She told me that her third graders were getting really good with their multiplications. They’d struggled for a while to even understand the concept, but her students had trouble every year. Many of them were immigrants, and mom had to teach them English while she taught them everything standardized tests expected of them. It was hard, but no one knew how to make children comfortable the way mom did. She had a way of letting you know that you’d made a mistake without making you feel like it reflected on you. She told me how she had to work her way from explaining the basic concept to having her children get advanced scores on the district tests. She was so proud.

At the first lull in conversation she asked me how Alondra and I were doing. She left me, I told her. I explained about the last few weeks. I told her that we’d been having problems, that I cheated, and that Alondra decided we couldn’t work. I started crying. I told her I was sorry. “Did you apologize to Alondra?” I’d been too busy being mad at myself for being my father. “You didn’t hurt me. You hurt her. Did you apologize?” I told her I hadn’t. I told her that she hadn’t been mad at first, and then it was too late. “You were mad at yourself for breaking her trust, for cheating. You should have apologized instead of expecting her to be mad at you. She’s not your mother.” I just kept crying. Mom asked me to drive home to see her.

The drive was relaxing. I drove to Santa Cruz first and then made my way down the coast. I stopped on the beach to watch the sun set. I must have been somewhere north of Moss Landing. The strip of beach was completely abandoned. The sky was somewhat overcast and the wind was picking up the way it always is on the Central Coast. The dark waves crashed onto the shore and I just watched. They slowly ate away the bright sand. The oncoming tide came closer and closer to where I sat, each time taking more. I wondered how long the comfort of the Earth would last there. I considered just walking into the ocean and letting it take me. I grabbed my left arm tightly. I didn’t know how to continue. Then the moon came out from behind a cloud and set a light over the ocean. I could see the sand, the waves, and the coast that stretched on. I walked back to my car and drove on.

Mom had a plate of food for me when I got home. Her and dad were sitting at the table and watching the news while they ate. I sat down with them and listened to dad talk about his day. Work was picking up because of the field workers coming back. He was mad that all these pendejos were asking him to show them how to fix their cars themselves like he was stupid enough to lose business by teaching them. He asked me what was wrong. I didn’t realize he’d stopped talking about himself. I was staring at the pear tree in the backyard through the glass door. He tapped me on the arm and asked again. I told him about Alondra. I told him that I’d cheated. He told me that I needed to move on from my mistake. I couldn’t just let it eat at me. He stood to give me a hug. I didn’t return it. He held me close and gave me a kiss on the forehead before heading to his room.

Mom walked into the backyard and asked me to come with her. She sat at a bench at the foot of dad’s pear tree. I sat down next to her. She leaned back in her seat and looked up at the sky.

“You made a mistake, Damian. That’s not who you are though. You’re better than this. You know that, hijo.”

“I’m not though, mom. I always manage to screw things up. I always get scared and run away from it all.”

“You just need to grow from your mistakes. You’re my son, and we both know you’re capable of so much more.” I started to cry. In a moment I was out of breath and shaking. “Mom. I’m just as bad as the stories you used to tell me about dad. I’m don’t deserve anything but loneliness.” Mom pulled me close and held me tight. She was crying now too.

“You’re not your father. You need to forgive him. I did a long time ago, but I think you’re holding on to that pain still. He’s made mistakes, but he’s always tried his best for you and me. You can’t move on and be really happy if you constantly feel like he’s looming over you. Like were looming over you. You need to find something that makes you happy.” She stood up and kissed me on the cheek, and turned to go inside.

“Mom. I love you.” She stopped at those words. The last time I’d said them to her I was nine years old. That was before the night that my dad beat me for being too emotional and told me that real men didn’t hurt. She turned back to me, her crying renewed. She gave me a hug and went inside. I sat under that tree for a long time just holding my arm. The moon kept me company until I decided to go inside.

At some point I went inside. Mom and dad were asleep, so I sat at the foot of their bed trying not to wake them. I wanted to hear the familiar sound of their snoring playing off each other into the best lullaby I’d ever had. I wanted to lay between them in the crook of both their arms and know that I was safe. Even in the pitch black of their room, with the two of them around me I was safe. I stood and walked to dad’s side of the bed. I leaned over him and gave him a hug. He stirred and in his half asleep state hugged me back. He told me he loved me then rolled to face mom. I couldn’t remember the last time he’d said those words to me. I stood up and mumbled out how much of a shit he was. I walked to my room. The curtain’s were open, and outside I could see the pear tree framing the full moon. It was beautiful.

The next morning I went back to San Jose. I went on a run into the hills to clear my head. It wasn’t as hard to deal with losing Alondra after the initial pain passed. I’d been pushing her away for so long, so I had no right to be upset. I’d made so many mistakes and played with her feelings when I couldn’t figure out my own; I needed to move on, and let her do the same.

I drove towards the airport to pick up Iris. For the first time in months, I could say that life was good.

I was working towards being happy.

Semillas y Lluvia

March 10th, 2015 | Posted by Getsu in Short Story - (0 Comments)

This is a story that I’ve been working on for a few weeks, and the first draft that I feel comfortable sharing. It will likely continue to change, but I did want to put this out there. When I decide that I have reached a “final” draft, I may share it again.



When we were younger Juanita was an older sister to me. I was glad to drive two-thousand miles through dusty valleys and sweltering deserts just to get to spend a month with her. I was an expert at the eleven hour trip from Los Angeles to El Paso, but I didn’t know the routes once we got into Ciudad Juárez. It was always frustrating having to try to figure out how far we were based on barren landscapes that had few indicators of the passing kilómetros on our way to Irapuato. Only papi’s stories helped me count down the hours; his favorite story was about moving to El Norte. Abuelo had left our family to go find work and money. Papi had to grow up without his papá, and abuela and his older sister Chela were the only support he had. They worked hard so that he could go to school. As he got older he realized that they couldn’t do as much to support the family as an hombre could. He had more opportunities to work, so he left to Los Angeles. Away from home, other hombres taught him how to be one of them. He came to understand that abuela and Chela depended on him to survive, they needed him. It was up to them, to mujeres, to take care of the family so that he could continue to work.


Juanita was always waiting for us when we finally drove into abuela’s lot. She carried herself in a detached and sarcastic manner: she acted as if she didn’t want to see me, but she’d always invite me to tag along with her. She talked back to both our papás when they told us that muchachas shouldn’t be running around alone. She even made Julio cry once when he was bullying me. I hadn’t seen her in eight years.


“Mamá, I can’t do this,” Juanita’s voice brings me back to this moment. Juanita is sitting next to me in the kitchen. I came down alone on my winter break from school to surprise everyone, so Juanita and my Tia Irma, her mamá, came over to visit me. After she introduced me to her four year old son, Andres, we sat down for lunch that my abuela was making with my Tia Chela, and Juanita started to tell me about her life in the years I’ve been gone. I asked about her esposo, and she started to cry.


She got married the last time we visited. Her esposo was pretty enough for my taste, but more importantly, he treated her right. They dated since she was twelve, and she planned their wedding to line up with my family’s trip in December the year that she turned sixteen. I was her maid of honor at thirteen, and I’m proud to say I was so mature that my Tia Chela offered me a glass of wine. She also drunkenly threatened to cut off the novio’s huevos if he ever hurt Juanita, but that’s beside the point. That day was the happiest I’d ever seen Juanita; I still remember how perfect she looked grinning at me in her long white gown.


The memory that lingers fades and I see her as she is now. The years have not been kind to her; even her trademark smirk is currently missing, and she hasn’t made a single sassy remark. A mixture of smooth and raw cuts cover the undersides of her arms. The bruises on the outsides have darkened since she got here. I awkwardly hold her close across the two chairs we’re sitting on. Her son comes over and pats her on the leg once before going back to his ball. Even at four years old this little hombre is used to seeing mujeres in pain.


“I’ve tried so hard to make it work, but I made a mistake when I married him.” Juanita mumbles so quietly that I’m sure only I heard her. She continues louder, “I know I can’t leave, but I’m not sure how much longer I can live in these conditions.” I reach my hand over to her and gently rub at her arms.


“You have to be strong, hija.” My Tia Irma looks at us with a hopeful smile. “Dios will be there for you if you go to him.”


“That’s not enough right now, hermana” Chela chimes in while picking at dirt under her nails. She’s the oldest of my tias, and the foundation that her younger sisters rely on. Even papi has stories of her being the toughest chingóna that he ever met. Once while drunk he told me that the only person I could rely on in this world more than him was Chela.


“He was there for me when her father shared my home with those putas!” Irma slams her hands down on the table, there’s a sudden desperation in her voice. The fragile plastic table we’re using rattles momentarily. Chela grabs her beer and takes a long drink. She puts a hand firmly on the table to stop the rattling.


“Irma. Dios isn’t the one who kicked that puta out of your house and beat the shit out of your miserable excuse for an esposo.” Mami told me about this. Five years ago Irma and Chela went to Irma’s house to take my Tio Jose some food from a party. Irma walked into her room to find Jose with another woman. Chela calmly sat her down in the living room, went to her bedroom, knocked respectfully, asked the puta to leave, and when Jose ordered her to leave him with his esposa she beat him so badly that he needed a rectal catheter. She literally beat the shit out of him.
“I know, hermana.” She reaches out and tries to hold Chela’s hand; she awkwardly rests it on top instead when she decides that Chela won’t hold her hand. “I was still hurt after it happened though. That cabron brought those perras into the house that I raised my children in. I didn’t know what to do. I loved him. Diosito gave me strength.” Her smile grows wider. “You have to have faith, hija. Dios has a plan. Your family can support you.” Even after she caught him cheating, my Tia stayed with Jose. It was normal for him to sleep around now according to my mami.


I can’t say anything. I don’t know what to say. I’ve dealt with machismo and sexism in LA; catcalls and boys that think they’re entitled to my body isn’t anything new. Hombres puercos, mami would say when I told her about random men on streets. For a while I tried dating white boys, thinking that machismo was entirely a Latino thing. They were just as sexist, and then I had to deal with being their mami caliente. Even after that, I don’t know how to respond to such blatant mistreatment; I always felt safe asserting myself with boys. The hombres here don’t even try to hide what they think about mujeres around them.


“You know our husbands won’t get involved,” Chela replies. “For all their talk and machismo, they won’t go out of their way to defend her. They’ll say it’s not their problem.” Chela is the opposite of my Tia Irma. Where Irma is short and skinny, Chela is as tall as papi and as thick as any hombre in our family. Her hands are covered in hard calluses and her shoulders and arms are muscular from years working our family’s land. As long as I can remember she has told me not to listen to papi telling me I can’t do things because I’m a mujer.


“She’s right, Tia,” I add in. “Papi was talking about it earlier. He said that it wasn’t his place to go interfere between a man and his wife… He said that back when she left she was happy enough, and it’s not his problem that she regrets it now.” Juanita holds my hand tighter while I say that.


“That’s not right. Our hermano will help her, he’s always helped us. The men in our family aren’t like the culeros we married.”


That’s not true. The men in our family are machistas too. She sounds so sure, so happy. I know it’s not true though. “Tia… Mami told me stories. She said that papi was the same with her. He brought other women around after I was born. He’d yell at her. He threatened that he’d take his hija and leave if she didn’t do what he said. He might not have ever hit her, but my mamá has scars too. Scars that your hermano gave her.”


Juanita starts crying. It’s not the same as my Tia Irma or even me: the tears are slow and steady, their release a break in an act that’s been held up too long. Juanita has seen her mamá suffer the same way she has, and her mamá stayed. The mujer that raised her is trying to be strong enough to put up with a sucio of an esposo, so she thinks that’s the only option she has.


Abuela comes over and sits at the head of the table. She puts down a few tortillas she had been warming up for us. “I put up with your papá for years, and I raised my hijo to be better.” Abuela is speaking slowly, and we all quiet down to hear her. “Even so, machismo surrounded him and he forgot that while his papá abandoned him to waste his time en El Norte, his mamá struggled by herself to raise him. This obsession with hombres is a part of our cultura that we’ve allowed to continue by putting our faith in Dios and assuming it’ll get better on it’s own.


“They’re all the same,” Chela says. She moves over to Irma and starts to rub at her shoulders. “Don’t cry, hermana. We don’t need any of them, we have each other. Your hija is too strong to let this break her.”



Juanita looks at abuela as she starts talking, “I gave that man twelve years of my life, he’s my son’s father.” Her focus is distant. “I work my hands to the bone in that restaurant of theirs, and they still treat me like a beggar at their table.” She wipes her tears off her face, and her eyes harden. “He doesn’t defend me in front of his mother or his sister, pendejas.” Juanita sighs and looks at her mom, her composure regained. “I know he fucks other women, and he only cares about me when they don’t make him feel like a man. I can’t even look at him anymore, and he says it makes him sad. If not for my son, I would have left a long time ago.” I can see Andres playing outside through the kitchen’s sliding glass door. It saddens me to think that someday he might be the same as his father.


“You should leave anyway,” I whisper to her. I’m pleading with her.


“Ay, prima. I don’t have anywhere to go,” she says to me with a half smile. Without support she can’t leave; she knows that she can survive her current situation, but the danger of leaving scares her.


“You can come back home,” Irma quickly says. “Hija, the day you left was so sad for me. You’re my oldest. Having you back would help me put up with your papá.”


“No. I can’t. Papá won’t let me work. I need to be able to take care of me and my son. By myself. I can’t just trade one cage for another.”


“It’s not a cage, hija… It’s your home. It’s our home. I can take care of Andres for you. I can take care of you.”


“You don’t understand, mamá. I’m treated like I can’t take care of myself living with that puerco and his family. That’s what papá will do to me. He’ll say it’s because he loves me, but my esposo says the same thing!”


“He does love you! Your his -”


“That’s the point! I’m not anyone’s! I need to be mine. I need to be my own person, and papá won’t let me do that.” Juanita isn’t crying anymore. She’s angry; her grip on my hand is painful.


“You can come here!” The thought breaks through my lips. “After I leave this house will be empty. It’s just our abuelos. You can live here with them, you’ll have all this space!” I’m excited at being able to do something. I know it’s hard for her to leave her esposo, but that situation isn’t something that any mujer should accept.


“My hermano won’t like that,” Irma says.


“To hell with papi. He doesn’t need to know. He’s told me this house is mine, and I say she can use it.”


“Carolina, you can’t say things like that. Even if he’s not perfect, he’s your papá.” Irma is pressing her cross to her lips and rubbing it between her thumb and forefinger. She closes her eyes and I can see her mumbling something.


“Tia, I see Juanita struggling with this marriage, and I have to do something. That isn’t love, this is. We’re here for each other, we’re supporting each other, we’re willing to break custom for each other. I just want to help her. To support her,” I’m yelling the last few words. I’m angry at seeing mujeres that raised me, that I love so much, that I have looked up to my whole life hurting like this. For all the hombres’ machismo, these mujeres are the strongest people I know; for my own sake I need to know that a strong woman can do more than survive our cultura.


“You should listen to her, hija.” Abuela says to Irma while still cleaning. “Carolina is trying to help you meet Dios halfway. Help your daughter and your niece break this cycle, and raise your grandson to remember that his father’s actions aren’t acceptable.”


Juanita moves across the room and hugs our abuela. It looks for a moment as if the strength of her embrace is going to crush the hunched old mujer, but she returns the embrace with the same vigor. Abuela reaches up and pulls Juanita’s head into the nook of her shoulder. “My old eyes ran out of tears years ago, hija. My body doesn’t have it left in it to be sad anymore. With my nietas the only thing I have left is anger. My life is almost over, and I want to see you smiling the day I die.”


“Mamá, I want you to help me and Caro move my stuff here tomorrow.”


“We’ll do it together,” Chela says while taking Irma’s hand in her own. “You can bring some of your things here too, hermana. If you can’t stand that esposo of yours, you can come here with your mamá and your hija.”


“Alright,” Irma sounds sad, but she’s smiling. “We’ll do it, and Dios willing things will get better for you, hija.” Juanita rushes over and hugs her mamá. They’re both crying, but I can feel that these tears are different. This is happiness at the thought of a better life; this is hope. The seeds for a change from machismo were planted long ago, and enough rain has fallen for them to flourish now.


Dota 2: Offlaning 101

October 6th, 2014 | Posted by Getsu in DotA 2 | Guide - (0 Comments)

The offlane position in Dota 2 tends to be one of the more difficult to play well at low skill levels because of the position that the lane forces you into. At higher skill and experience levels, players understand that the offlane is about getting as much as possible while risking the least. The best players in the world also manage to make it into a high risk high reward lane, and you regularly see pro players in the offlane sacrificing themselves for a kill on the enemy safe carry.

As a whole, the offlane is a role that requires you to know what you are able to do based on your opponents. In some scenarios, all you can hope for is xp; in the best case, you may be able to go for a solo kill if the enemy underestimates you. Regardless of your opponents, you want to set yourself up with a good start. I will only cover the basics as this post is meant to be an introduction to the offlane and not an in depth guide, but I’m going to break down how to set yourself up for the best case scenario from the offlane.


The Baseline: Experience

With most offlane heroes (Cent, Tide, Void, etc.), the only real necessity is to get experience. These heroes have amazing ultimate abilities for team fights, so you want to get your level 6 as fast as possible. The enemy will no doubt try to shut you down by pulling creep waves into their jungle or by harassing you out of experience range. Luckily, most heroes played in the offlane have a lot of tools to survive a straight engagement, but you are still losing out if you are not in exp range. Now, to put some perspective on it: exp range is 1300 units.

The green circle around Centaur is the max range for exp.

The green circle around Centaur is the max range for exp.

As seen in the picture, the exp range is actually huge. If a support isn’t constantly sitting on you, you can easily be close enough to at least get exp. The important thing to note here is that you only have to be within that range at the time of the creeps’ deaths. You can sit safely back while they fight, as long as you get back in range for their deaths. You may ask how to make sure that you’re safe enough to be in exp range, and to that end I want to share some tools you have at your disposal to assure your safety as you gain exp.

Creep Block

This is something that isn’t really evident when starting to play Dota, but you can block your creeps’ movement to control their position in the lane. By running your character in front of the creeps, they will be “blocked” by your character model. If you manage to do this while using the “Stop” command (S key for default settings), you can have creeps clash much closer to your tower in a space where you will be safer. In this video Slahser shows you what a creep block should look like at the start of the game.


If done correctly, this will let you control your creeps’ positions at the start of the laning phase. Getting a quick level 2 or even 3 from this can then make offlaning even easier as you have more skills at your disposal. Learning to block is extremely important for setting yourself up to be successful in the offlane.



If you have a good team (and are lucky), you will have a support who gives you a ward to do with what you will in the offlane. This first ward can many times make or break your game. In other words: learn the best uses for wards in the offlane so you can gain exp and possibly even some last hit gold (also so you don’t die, but lets take that for granted). The two main uses for wards as an offlaner are to watch the supports rotate, and to block the pull camp so that they can’t deny you exp. Both are very good options, but I’ve found that in my games ward use comes down to what you’re up against.

If the enemy team has two supports, you should use your ward defensively to watch their movements. This probably means that they’ll be pulling, but in a 3v1 situation your priority has to be your own survival. They can easily rotate to kill you if they play properly, so you want to make sure that you’re ready for that. This spot here is my favorite spot for watching rotations on the Dire offlane:

This ward sees the jungle and if the supports are pulling/rotating.

This ward sees the jungle and if the supports are pulling/rotating.


Any ward can work as long as it grants vision of supports rotating to you, but this one is a bit more out of the way. I can usually place this ward and not have it dewarded, which means you get the full 7 minutes of safety.

If the enemy team has only one support (and only one person who could possibly spare wards for dewarding), your best best is likely to block the pull camp. There should only be two heroes in your lane, so the potential for the enemy to kill you is lower. This gives you an opportunity to be more aggressive and closer to creeps, and if you block the pull camp you can simply focus on being in exp range. Here is a link to Team eHugs Pull Camp Warding Guide. It will show you all the best places to ward a pull camp. Learn the harder spots, and you can guarantee yourself the first few waves of exp.

An Update

March 19th, 2014 | Posted by Getsu in Personal - (1 Comments)

As anyone who has frequented this blog in the past few weeks, or months really, has noticed: I’m not writing guides on WoW anymore. I feel really bad about just falling off the face of the Earth, so I want to share what’s been going on with me (especially since my last post was not game related). There’ll be a TLDR of sorts concerning guides and this blog at the end because this post may get rather rambly.

As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I am currently a student at Vassar College. This has its ups and downs, but I think the poem I posted before going MIA made it clear that there were a few prominent downs at that time. There was a brewing of tension because many people felt that there was a lot of discrimination towards different groups on campus (whether they were racial, sexual, or gender issues). This continued to build in situations where I could feel prejudice openly coming from other students, which led me to write the piece that I shared in September. These issues built until they reached the point where personal attacks were orchestrated against students on campus, some of the victims being close friends of mine. At this time I asked Brutall, the GM of Static, to give me some time off from raiding to deal with my personal problems so that I could be there for my friends. I assured him that I would not be quitting, and felt that this absence would be fine since Static was working on H Garrosh and the raid didn’t need me for that progression.

The issues at school continued to get out of hand with more and more personal attacks (involving a physical assault on a friend). Eventually the administration announced that a pair of students had been behind the attacks and would be leaving school. This ended up breaking much of the tension behind the campus atmosphere without truly resolving much of the prejudice that students felt. The administration continued to attempt to work at the tensions, but many groups still felt it openly. I continued to take time to be there for friends who took the situation much more harshly than I did, and I simply never found time to return to raiding. Before I knew it a few weeks had gone by, Static had taken down Heroic Garrosh, and I had been demoted to a Friends and Family member. At the time I felt bad because I had assured Brutall that I would not be quitting, but I didn’t really have the energy to explain that I was still dealing with stuff.

Despite the campus events being gone at this point, tensions continued and I could feel it in many of my friends. Many of my very close friends were visibly unhappy, and more recently my best friend attempted to commit suicide (hes doing well now). For a long time I had managed to put off my personal feelings on these matters, but when this happened I couldn’t handle it anymore. I broke down. I tried to be strong for everyone around me for so long, and it took its strain on me.

I’ve taken time since these events happened to take care of myself, and am now doing much better. My life seems to be coming back together, and I want to get back to the things that I love. That includes coming back to this blog.

When things calmed down I managed to get back to gaming, but that did not include returning to WoW. The only thing that I ever loved about WoW was raiding, and even before this happened I was feeling disheartened in that regard. Raiding just wasn’t fun anymore. While I loved playing with Static (everyone in that guild has and will remain to be like family to me), I don’t feel that I am deserving of a spot in that guild because of the commitment issues I have due to school and personal problems. This has led me to decide that I won’t be returning to WoW. I just can’t see myself raiding with a guild other than Static.

I love gaming too much to not write about it. Even if I don’t keep many of the readers that came to me for Holy Paladin advice, I want to be able to write about the games that I enjoy playing. I have picked up Dota 2 and may begin writing on that game, or any other games that I pick up and play from time to time. I tried to start streaming via Twitch, but that didn’t work out as my school’s internet connection isn’t fast enough to allow me to stream and play comfortably. I’ll try to write consistently, for now I’m aiming at bi-weekly posts, and I’ll try to get more active in regards to Twitter.

For now I want to say thank you to any of the readers that have continued to support my work throughout the last two years (Its been almost that long since I started this blog). I appreciate the posts and messages that I receive whether it be related to gaming or my personal life.

Side note: Big thank you to Static, especially Brutall, for supporting me since I joined the guild. They are truly a great group of people and anyone who has enjoyed my guides should definitely support them. I believe that Brutall has started putting up a lot of youtube videos and streaming on twitch, so anyone looking for a lovable oaf of a man who enjoys gaming should check him out.

Static’s Website

Brutall’s Twitter

Brutall’s Twitch


I will no longer be playing WoW, and therefore will not be writing guides on the game anymore. I will still try to write bi-weekly posts on this site related to gaming, and will continue to share whatever creative writing pieces I feel are appropriate. Thank you to anyone who reads and supports this blog, it means a lot to me.

Just like You

September 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Getsu in Personal - (1 Comments)

This is a poem that I wrote for an Open Mic event I performed at last night. It’s the first poem I’ve ever performed, but I think it managed to say a lot of what I wanted it to. It’s a very personal piece on my identity at my college, so it might not be something that everyone can relate to. It’s also meant to be spoken because it is a very emotional piece for me, but I wanted to share it here despite not having a video of my reading. Just a warning that it brings up issues of race due to my heritage and the way that I am perceived because of it.


Name, Where I’m from, Major.

My name is Marcos, I’m from California, I’m an STS Major.

Oh, its Marcos.

And yea, I’m really from California.

From the fertile Salinas Valley.

Where my parents came to work the bountiful fields,

And plant their hope.

Where they cared and tended their garden,

And there I grew.

Yet even there I get no more

than cold stares from those who consider themselves more native than I.

Who are happy to import my parents sweat,

but want nothing to do with their blood.

Who claim ownership over the fruit of their labor,

but try to deport the  fruit of their wombs.

And I hear it even in the way you ask where I’m really from,

that even you view me as a second rate person in one of the only places I’ve ever considered home, but you probably think I’d fit in better in Mexico.

And that’s not much better than people who would have me go back “where I came from”.

You would force on me a culture I’ve never truly belonged to.

A culture that has never truly accepted me.

I’m more of a foreigner in this motherland you want me to return to.

So why am I still the Mexican here?

Why, when I thought that I was finally home, do I have to put up with friends who feel they can talk my language when they say “tacos, burritos, chile!”

And why am I made to feel so uncomfortable in this “accepting” place.

People who can’t even pronounce my name want to decide who I really am.

Here when it suits you I’m just as Mexican as you need me to be.

When I can fill your diversity quota you like to focus on my heritage

When you need me to be, I become the token Mexican

As a tour walks through campus I’m a brown face to break up the crowd of white.

Yet growing up I was always the whitewashed kid who was just about as Mexican as Taco Bell.

And when it suits you, you quickly realize how true that is.

I put on a suit and suddenly I go from Mexican to Spanish, Greek, Italian.

I put on a suit and you take away the very culture that you’ve been trying to force on me.

The struggle that my parents went through to give me a better opportunity in life than they had

A childhood spent in a city so violent that it was featured on Ganglands.

Where white people saw me as just another walking target on a shooting range

A lifetime of trying to decide just how Mexican or American I really am.

Trying to decide just how much culture I have a right to.

Trying to appease people like you who assign me to whichever you like

And my family that wants me to remember my roots.

I might not be Mexican, but I am Latino. I am Chicano.

I try to dress nice, and you take that all of that away from me.

I become white so that I can better fit into the stereotypes in your head.

I cant possibly be Latino and educated.

I can’t possibly be Chicano and dress well.

I can’t be all of me without having you try to decide who I really am.

So let me explain it for you.

I am really from California

I am really Latino

I am really Chicano.

I am really American.

I am really a Vassar student.

I have my strengths and my faults

I have my successes and my struggles

I am my own person

Just like you.


Quick update

September 13th, 2013 | Posted by Getsu in Mists of Pandaria | Paladin | World of Warcraft - (0 Comments)

Updates for 5.4

I went through and updated everything for 5.4. The Holy Paladin Guide should be updated both here and over at MMO champion now. I went through and updated all the information with a primary focus on trying to clear up the changes to the level 45 talents and how secondary stats work now. Its a little complicated since all of the changes leave a lot of room for interpretation and many top players are doing things differently, but I made an effort to try to explain all the options. Gemming and secondary stats mostly are a little complicated at the moment, but I did my best to explain what top players are doing and why. As far as I can tell I covered everything and cleaned up the big mistakes, but I’d appreciate having any mistakes pointed out to me!

Moving forward with 5.4

I’m hoping to write some healing guides for the normal modes like the ones I did back in T14. I will work on those after going through raid next week so I have a bit more experience on the fights and a better idea of what works. After those I will be working on producing more in detail guides for each individual boss as Static progresses through them. I’ll be hoping to get those out on the weekends after the raid week, so expect posts from me on Fridays/Saturdays.

Those are really the only updates I have for now. Check out the guides, let me know what you think, and good luck in T16 everyone!

This is much later than I was hoping, but I finally finished this up. I’m sorry for it’s tardiness, but I didn’t want to write this before changes were finalized. I also have been busy moving back to school, but enough with the excuses.

To start off with here are all the changes that apply to Holy:

  • Mastery: Illuminated Healing no longer activates from periodic healing effects.
  • Seal of Insight no longer has a chance to restore mana on attacks.
  • Divine Plea no longer reduces the amount of healing done, and now restores mana based on the Paladin’s Spirit.
  • Sanctity of Battle now also affects the cooldown of Holy Shock.
  • Holy Shock mana cost has been reduced by 50%.
  • Judgment now costs 12% of base mana to cast (up from 5% of base mana).
  • Holy Insight now increases the effectiveness of Eternal Flame, Light of Dawn, and Word of Glory by 50% (up from 35%). Effectiveness of other heals are still increased by 25%.
  • Guardian of the Ancient Kings now deals additional healing based on any heal cast by the Paladin for the 15 seconds for the duration of the spell. The Paladin also has 10% additional haste for the duration that the ability is active.
  • Selfless Healer in addition to its current effects, now also causes Judgment to generate a charge of Holy Power. Stacks of Selfless Healer now reduce the cast time, mana cost, and improve the effectiveness of Divine Light, Flash of Light, and Holy Radiance.
  • Eternal Flame’s periodic heal-over-time effect now heals for 40% more.
  • Sacred Shield now applies its damage absorption shield immediately, can be active on more than one target at a time, but the talent now costs mana and has 3 charges with a 10-second recharge.
  • Sanctified Wrath now also increases the critical strike chance of Holy Shock by 20%.
  • Hand of Purity now reduces damage taken from harmful periodic effects by 80% (up from 70%) and reduces damage taken from harmful periodic effects that cannot be prevented by immunities by 40% (up from 0%).
  • Unbreakable Spirit has been simplified. It now reduces the cooldown on Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Lay on Hands by 50%.


Those are quite a few changes to sort through. I’m going to start this off by talking about the elephant in the room: Eternal Flame has been nerfed to not apply Illuminated Healing.

Welcome to 5.4, you suck

I’m just going to go right out and say it, we’ve been nerfed. Big time.

Our main healing style for the last two tiers has been to focus on HoPo generation to use EF. The healing it did plus the constant Mastery bubbles it put up did amazingly for sheer throughput, and Blizzard took note. They decided that a majority of healing paladins taking the same talent was not something they wanted. They want us to occasionally use the other level 45 talents, and so they nerfed EF to the ground. There’s no beating around the bush here or trying to argue that the other talents have been buffed to compensate. This is an outright nerf, and if you don’t think so you’re fooling yourself.

Bouch did an amazing breakdown of the numbers for the next patch in this post. If you haven’t read it yet, you should look it over.

Basically what it comes down to next tier is that Blizzard took away the EF interactions that made us so strong and then decided not to buff us enough to make up for the loss of healing. While there are some buffs being tossed our way, EF’s HoT and Holy Insight being two of the nicer ones, they do not make up for the healing we’ve lost. Bouch breaks down very nicely that SH, EF, and SS are very close to each other after the nerf to Judgement via increased mana cost. This means that Blizzard succeeded in making the other talents viable options within comparable healing of EF. That’s not to say that its comparable to current EF, that’s far too much to ask for. The newly buffed “viable” talents are comparable to this newly nerfed EF. So yes, you can play whatever healing style your heard desires from the level 45 talents, you’ll still suck compared to now.

“Viability” and Level 45 talents

Now as far as I’ve seen from the numbers people are producing from the PTR the new versions of the talents are actually very close to each other. What this means is that you can actually play different playstyles if that’s what you want to do. If you don’t like the race for HoPo that EF is, you can play the game of cooldown management with Selfless Healer, or the maintenance of SS. It seems that gearing is still just about the same independently of what playstyle you want to go with. You can basically stick to Spirit > Mastery for any of the playstyles which will allow us to change talents between fights if certain fights are better suited to one talent over another.

Another important thing to note is that it seems Haste and Mastery are basically even as far as straight throughput goes. The main difference is that Mastery still interacts with our limited mana pool much better than Haste. You can definitely go with Haste over Mastery, but you will burn through your mana faster than you would with Mastery. There are a few more intricacies to take note of now as well though. Obviously the EF HoT doesn’t stack Mastery anymore, but the original heal does. That means that pre shielding (as much as is possible anyway) should be done with LoD before big raid damage. Haste will also interact much differently with SH than the other talents due to HS and Judgement’s cooldowns scaling from Haste. Based on numbers that I’ve seen people discussing, it seems that it takes huge amounts of Haste to make a real difference in the cooldown of HS, but you can still gear Spirit > Haste for a slightly faster moving playstyle.

Really what I’m trying to get across here is that while Blizzard did nerf us, they somewhat succeeded in making us effective with multiple different playstyles. They may not be perfectly equal, but they’re close enough now that as a Holy Paladin you can choose what healing style you like best. It’s all about the silver lining, guys.

Just keep playing

In all seriousness, just keep playing. Ignore the nay sayers and the people crying about being nerfed to hell. Blizzard made the changes as they saw fit, and now we have to deal with them. If you feel that you need to switch classes to be competitive now, go ahead and stop crying. If you’re sticking with your Holy Paladin, support people who produce productive information on our class; if that means we ask for buffs or say that were even with other healers doesn’t matter. We’ve been at a high point for the last two tiers, but now we may possibly be at a low point. I’m personally going to wait until I get to play the class on live to decide how much we’ve been nerfed, but I can tell you that there’s no way I’m switching mains. We still have fantastic survival cooldowns, we still have a strong tank cooldown, we still have a strong raid cooldown, and the patch hasn’t made us go from strong healers to instantly benched.

If you enjoy playing your Holy Paladin, you’ll still enjoy it. I’m honestly tired of hearing so many people cry about the end of the world for Holy Paladins. I can tell you that I’m going to continue playing my Holy Paladin for Hardmode progression next tier, and I hope that you will too.

This guide will be based on the strategy shown in the video below. I will try to explain how best to deal with abilities without directly relating them to Static’s strategy where I can.

The first part of the post will break down the abilities and the strategy that Static used. After that I will break down how best I think each ability should be dealt with.


Lightning Conduits

While Lei Shen is in range of a Lightning Conduit he powers it, granting him an additional ability specific to that Lightning Conduit. The energy level of the Conduit increases the longer Lei Shen charges it, increasing damage dealt by the granted ability. When the Conduit’s power reaches 100 energy, it will increase the level of the Conduit, and the Conduit’s power will reset to 0.

North Conduit: Static Shock – Lei Shen charges the target with Static Shock. After 8 sec, Static Shock inflicts 1,300,000 Nature damage, divided among all players within 8 yards. As the level of the Static Shock Conduit increases, the number of targets Lei Shen afflicts with Static Shock will also increase.
– Damage of Static Shock increases as the Power and Level of the North Conduit increases.

East Conduit: Diffusion Chain – Lei Shen zaps a player, inflicting 100,000 Nature damage. This attack chains to nearby enemies, inflicting increased damage to each successive target. Each time Diffusion Chain strikes an enemy, a Diffused Lightning spawns at that location.As the level of the Diffusion Chain Conduit increases, the spawned Diffused Lightning elementals grow more powerful.
– Damage of Diffusion Chain increases as the Power and Level of the East Conduit increases.
Diffused Lightning – Diffusion Chain creates a Diffused Lightning for every target it strikes. Diffused Lightning’s attacks cause Chain Lightning.
– In Heroic, the Diffused Lightning will fixate on the player that it spawned from.

South Conduit: Overcharge – Lei Shen Overcharges a target player. The player becomes rooted and after 6 sec causes Overcharge to burst, creating a torus of electric energy around the target that quickly expands to create a ring with a safe area in the center. This burst inflicts 175,000 Nature damage, stunning affected targets for 3 sec. As the level of the Overcharge Conduit increases, the number of targets Lei Shen afflicts with Overcharge also increases.
– Damage of Overcharge increases as the Power and Level of the South Conduit increases.

West Conduit: Bouncing Bolt – Lei Shen conjures Bouncing Bolts that target random locations on the ground. Each Bolt inflicts 130,000 Nature damage split among players within 6 yards. If the Bouncing Bolt does not impact with a player, an Unharnessed Power forms, and the Bouncing Bolt bounces again. As the level of the Bouncing Bolt Conduit increases, the number of Bouncing Bolts that Lei Shen conjures also increases.
– Damage of Bouncing Bolt increases as the Power and Level of the West Conduit increases.
– Unharnessed Power – Each time a Bouncing Bolt impacts the ground and is not absorbed by a player, an Unharnessed Power forms.

Stage One: Thunderstruck!

Discharged Energy – If Lei Shen is not charging a Conduit, he will Discharge electricity, inflicting increasing Nature damage to all players every 0.5 sec.
Decapitate – Lei Shen throws his axe with supernatural force, inflicting 4,500,000 Physical damage and inflicting Decapitate, increasing Physical damage taken by 100% for 30 sec. The damage inflicted decreases the farther away the target is from Lei Shen.
Thunderstruck – Lei Shen winds up to hurl his axe at a target location, inflicting 1,750,000 Nature damage to nearby enemies. The damage inflicted decreases the farther away an enemy is from the impact point.
Crashing Thunder – Lei Shen calls down Thunder rapidly on targets every 1 sec causing a Lightning Crash. Crashing Thunder inflicts 150,000 Nature damage every 1 sec for 1.5 min.

Intermission: Supercharge Conduits!

When he has 65% health remaining, Lei Shen casts Supercharge Conduits, becoming invulnerable and activating all four Conduits at once, supercharging them and increasing their level by one. Lei Shen can only maintain Supercharge Conduits for 45 seconds.

Overloaded Circuits – The Conduit with the highest charge after Supercharge Conduits expires becomes Overloaded, disabling the Conduit. An Overloaded Conduit inflicts 40,000 Nature damage every 1 sec to that quadrant of the room.
– In Heroic Difficulty, instead of the Overloaded Conduit becoming disabled, it remains active for the remainder of the fight, granting Lei Shen that ability.
Helm of Command – Lei Shen forces the target off the platform by using his Helm of Command. Inflicts 75,000 Nature damage every 1 sec for 8 sec.

Stage Two: Lightning Will End You!

Discharged Energy – If Lei Shen is not charging a Conduit, he will Discharge electricity, inflicting increasing Nature damage every 0.5 sec.
Fusion Slash – Lei Shen slashes at the target with his polearm, inflicting 750,000 Nature damage, knocking the target back and increasing damage taken from Fusion Slash by 100% for 1 min.
Summon Ball Lightning – Summon several Ball Lightning elementals at the feet of random targets, inflicting 100,000 Nature damage to players within 6 yards of each elemental’s creation.
Ball Lightning – The Ball Lightning periodically rushes towards a random player, inflicting 250,000 Nature damage to that target.
– In Heroic Difficulty, Ball Lightning inflicts damage to enemies within 3 yards.
Lightning Whip – Lei Shen cracks a Lightning Whip across the floor, inflicting 800,000 Nature damage to enemies in front of him, creating a Lightning Bolt on the ground.
Lightning Bolt – Lightning Bolt inflicts 40,000 Nature damage every 0.25 sec. Lightning Bolt can be avoided by jumping over it.

Intermission: Supercharge Conduits!

When he has 30% health remaining, Lei Shen casts Supercharge Conduits, becoming invulnerable and activating all four Conduits at once, supercharging them and increasing their level by one. Lei Shen can only maintain Supercharge Conduits for 45 seconds.

Overloaded Circuits – The Conduit with the highest charge after Supercharge Conduits expires becomes Overloaded, disabling the Conduit. An Overloaded Conduit inflicts 40,000 Nature damage every 1 sec to that quadrant of the room.
– In Heroic Difficulty, instead of the Overloaded Conduit becoming disabled, it remains active for the remainder of the fight, granting Lei Shen that ability.
Helm of Command – Lei Shen forces the target off the platform by using his Helm of Command. Inflicts 75,000 Nature damage every 1 sec for 8 sec.

Stage Three: Master of Thunder and Lightning

Lei Shen casts Overwhelming Power and consumes all electricity from the Throne of Thunder, destroying any remaining functional Conduits, preventing their further activation.

Overwhelming Power – Lei Shen absorbs all of the electrical power from the Throne of Thunder, destroying any remaining functional Conduits, preventing their further activation. Overwhelming Power causes Lei Shen’s melee attacks to inflict 8,000 Nature damage every 1 sec for 8 sec.
Violent Gale Winds – Lei Shen causes the walls of his chamber to open, unleashing the force of Violent Gale Winds. The winds push players in a direction, inflicting 15,000 Nature damage every 1 sec.
Thunderstruck – Lei Shen winds up to hurl his axe at a target location, inflicting 1,750,000 Nature damage to nearby enemies. The damage inflicted decreases the farther away an enemy is from the impact point.
Summon Ball Lightning – Summon several Ball Lightning elementals at the feet of random targets, inflicting 100,000 Nature damage to players within 6 yards of each elemental’s creation.
Ball Lightning – The Ball Lightning periodically rushes towards a random player, inflicting 250,000 Nature damage to that target.
– In Heroic Difficulty, Ball Lightning inflicts damage to enemies within 3 yards.
Lightning Whip – Lei Shen cracks a Lightning Whip across the floor, inflicting 800,000 Nature damage to enemies in front of him, creating a Lightning Bolt on the ground.
Lightning Bolt – Lightning Bolt inflicts 40,000 Nature damage every 0.25 sec. Lightning Bolt can be avoided by jumping over it.


Encounter Strategy

*This strategy was written up by Halistra, Static’s strategic officer. Thanks to him for the write up*

Conduit Deactivation (aka abilities Lei Shen will keep for the fight)
– The level range below is close to what we are looking for and is dependent on the boss timers.
– He will have Bouncing Bolt for all of Ph2 and Ph3
– He will have Static Shock for all of Ph3 (2 Static Shocks since we will be raising it a level)
Phase 1 – West: Bouncing Bolt
– Start on West, bring as close to 100 energy
– South, move on 2nd Overcharged
– East, move ~5sec before 2nd Diffusion Chain
– North, push him before 2nd Static Shock
Phase 2 – North: Static Shock
– Start on North, raise once, move ~3 secs before 3rd static shock ~78 energy
– East, raise once, move ~5 secs before 3rd Diffusion Chain
– South, raise once, hold dps until it is raised and no Ball Lightning/Bouncing Bolt are out/about to come out… ~20 energy

Handling Thunderstruck
– For Phase 1, Ranged/Healers stack on either sides border of the quadrant we are currently charging. Once Thunderstruck circle drops on a stack location run to the opposite stack point (if applicable).
– For Phase 3, Ranged/Healers will be running to the opposite quadrant (from East to South) after Lightning Whip goes out. The goal is to drop Thunderstruck on/near the world marker. Once Thunderstruck circle drops use gateways/personal speed increases/blink/roll to get back into your spot for Ball Lightning.
– Melee move to edge of platform in ph1 to get further away from it.

Handling Ball Lightning
– 9 Ranged DPS move to designated spot in a ‘U’ around Lei Shen 6 yards from your neighbor. This is your ‘Ball Lightning’ position for all of ph2 and ph3. Must be within 20 yards of Lei Shen for…
– Death Knights Aoe grip rotation. One grip per set. Stun rotation (3) on Balls. Everyone AoE the shit out of them (this is why Brutall will be on his monk), Balls must be dead before they have a chance to jump to a target! (250k dmg on jump to everyone within 3 yrds)
– IMPORTANT: Melee and Ranged/Healers who are not assigned for Ball positions must be tightly stacked on Lei Shen’s ass when Balls are about to come out. YOU ALL MUST BE WITHIN 2 YRDS OF EACHOTHER IN A TIGHT STACK.

Phase 1: Overcharge West
Start on West
– Soak orbs, damage is split.
– Handle Thunderstruck.
Move to South: with ~5 seconds left on 2nd Bouncing Bolt timer (98 energy).
– Ranged/Healers stack in the back corner of the quadrant for Overcharged. Move to Thunderstruck stack position after Overcharged goes out.
– After Thunderstruck, Ranged/Healers stack in middle of the quadrant for second Overcharged.
Move to East: as Overcharged timer reaches zero (~92 energy).
– Melee move with tanks. After Overcharged chooses a target, Ranged/Healers run over to the East platform, staying spread out in the process for Diffusion Chain.
– After Diffusion Chain goes out, get into your Thunderstruck positions.
– Dot up add from Diffusion Chain (~6mil hp).
Move to North: with ~5 seconds left on 2nd Diffusion Chain timer (~82 energy).
– Soak Static Shock like normal. Melee soak together, ranged soak together.
– Move to Thunderstruck positions and burn burn burn.
– Move to your quadrants at 66%…

Intermission 1
– Pay attention to the people around you and the timer for Diffusion Chain. Do this and we’ll breeze through intermissions.
– Stay spread around the middle of the quadrant like normal, paying close attention to our call on Diffusion Chain timer. Handling every ability as if this was normal mode.
– If you are targeted by Helm of Command (3 chosen per cast) you must run against it to avoid getting pushed off platform. These people will also be taking a lot of dmg from the channel. Use your movement increases and take a lock portal as needed.

Phase 2: Overcharge North
Start on North
– Move into Ball Lightning positions immediately.
– If a Ranged assigned for Ball Lightning gets Static Shock move into melee, tight stack with them.
– The second Ball Lightning and Bouncing Bolt are close to eachother. BALL LIGHTNING POSITIONS COME FIRST, THEN QUICKLY SOAK THE BOUNCING BOLTS.
Move to East: Before 3rd Static Shock, which is right when a Fusion Slash occurs, ~80 energy
– Melee run a little early to East (similar to the very first platform transition of the fight). Ranged/Healers run spread out for Diffusion Chain.
– Bouncing Bolts come out immediately, handle it.
– Ball Lightning comes ~2 secs after Bolts are soaked… get into positions quickly!
Move to South: With ~5 secs before 3rd Diffusion Chain
– 2-3 Ranged DPS assigned for Ball Lightning (preferably those on the LEFT side of the U), hang back about 15 yrds deep still in East for the first Over Charged.
– Bouncing Bolts come out immediately, handle it.
– First Ball Lightning comes ~8 seconds after the initial Over Charged.
– STOP DAMAGE around 33% if timers/energy level is not ideal. LISTEN FOR THE CALL AND DON’T BE DUMB, NO DMG MEANS NO DMG!

Intermission 2
– Unlike normal, Lei Shen will still be able to use all four of his conduit abilities. Stay Spread before a Diffusion Chain, solo soak Static Shock if applicable, soak Bouncing Bolts on your portion of the quadrant, DO NOT be too close to over quadrants when Over Charged timer hits zero, and we will have gateways on all three of these quadrants… yay.

Phase 3: It all comes down to this…
Start on East: remain there for rest of fight, position Lei Shen same way as you do for all previous quadrants.
– Lightning Whip comes first, everyone should be in close and clumped around him to either his left or right side so you don’t have to move much.
– Static Shocks will be soaked in melee unless you can solo soak. This is only true outside of sets 1 and 4, where Static Shocks come while the raid is all spread out fighting the wind and moving for t-struck.
– If you recieve Static Shock while moving out for T-struck or soaking a Bouncing Bolt (during winds) you HAVE to move away from everyone else. You will either be solo soaking or dying, depending on class/CD availability.
– Every melee + OT is responsible for soaking ALL Bouncing Bolts when the Thunderstruck group is running out. Which is sets 1 and 4 below.
– Ranged/Healers (except MW monks) move towards South (Triangle) immediately after Whip and be max range for dps/healing. Move further out towards South with ~ 3 seconds left on Thunderstruck timer attempting to be directly on the Triangle marker.
– As soon as Thunderstruck is out use assigned lock portals and w/e speed boosts to get back into Ball Lightning positions. You only have 5 seconds to do this!
– Check the breakdown below for exactly how the abilities will unfold in ph3…

Phase 3 ability timer/use breakdown:
– Each ‘Set’ below begins with a wind and whip and ends with 8 seconds to kill the ball lightning before the next ‘Set’
– The time difference represents the time between each ability in the list
– Red highlight means its the hardest Sets to handle

Set 1:
Wind = Whip
+5 sec Static Shock = Bouncing Bolt
+5 sec Thunderstruck
+5 sec Ball Lightning

Set 2:
Wind = Whip
+ 10 sec Thunderstruck
+5 sec Ball Lightning =Static Shock = Bouncing Bolt

Set 3:
Wind = Whip
+ 10 sec Thunderstruck
+ 5 sec Ball Lightning

Set 4:
Wind = Whip
+ 2 sec Static Shock = Bouncing Bolt
+ 8 sec Thunderstruck
+ 5 sec Ball Lightning

Set 5:
Wind = Whip
+ 10 sec Thunderstruck
+ 5 sec Ball Lightning = Static Shock = Bouncing Bolt

Set 6: (Just in case)
Wind = Whip
+ 10 sec Thunderstruck
+ 5 sec Ball Lightning
+ 8 sec Static Shock = Bouncing Bolt


General Healing Strategy

Phase 1

Lei Shen keeps Thunderstruck and Crashing Thunder on all of the platforms and therefore the whole of phase 1. Crashing Thunder is rather easy to deal with because it just hits melee dps and possibly the tank. Just make sure that you keep HoTs or shields on your melee as the ground effect is spawning and they should be fine. For Thunderstruck your ranged should try to be on the edge of the square that your raid is currently on. Our raid tends to stand on a particular corner and move towards the opposite corner when the cast starts. Doing this should minimize the damage so that you don’t have much to heal through for the ranged or melee groups.

Transitions are also the same for the most part the entirety of phase 1. This is where I tend to pop my cooldowns, either in preparation by tossing up some HoTs or during to quickly raid heal through the heavy damage. This is also the best time to toss out raid cooldowns during phase 1 as it is the heaviest damage you will be dealing with. My raid usually uses Devotion Aura to deal with the damage that is going out here.

West Platform

The extra mechanic on this platform is Bouncing Bolts. Our raid usually only gets one set of these which the melee soaks to avoid having the ranged running around before Thunderstruck. Tossing some shields/hots on the melee (or other soakers) as the Bolts come down should deal with the majority of the damage. Its not too much either way, so other quick healing tossed at your melee groups should get them up easily.

South Platform

On this platform you will have to deal with Overcharge. This mechanic isn’t too annoying and shouldn’t actually do any damage if your raid is positioned correctly. If you have two stacks, ranged and melee, they should be able to stack out of reach of each other. If they aren’t, tossing AoE heals at the stack that gets hit is the best way to deal with the damage.

East Platform

This platform adds Diffusion Chain into the mix of damage. This is another ability that if handled correctly doesn’t do much damage at all. In the best situation you will have it hit a single person and spawn one add. This add should be dragged into melee and killed quickly, likely being stunned the whole time. In a terrible world where your raiders are idiots and ponies die painful deaths, it will hit 3+ people. The adds should still be moved into melee for easy Aoe handling, but it means you need cooldowns. It also means your melee will hate you and likely die if you don’t pop some cooldowns and spam some serious AoE heals. More adds. Handle it.

North Platform

Static Shock is the extra ability that you have to deal with here. Your raid should again be in two groups, melee and ranged, that can easily soak up the damage here. Whichever stack soaks the Shock should just get spammed with a bit of AoE healing to deal with the damage (which really isn’t that much spread across 10+ raiders).


Intermission 1

Intermissions are your real healing test on this fight. Sometimes they can be handled easily enough, and sometimes they are a huge pain in your ass. Be willing to burn up healing cooldowns and life saving buttons on these phases. During the first intermission you have to deal with all four of the platform abilities: Static Shock, Overcharged, Diffusion Chain, and Bouncing Bolts. On top of that you will also have Helm of Command going out on random people. The first intermission is also harder because you have four platforms to deal with and may likely be healing a platform alone.

Diffusion Chain and Overcharged should (hopefully) not do much damage. As long as your group stacks and spreads appropriately, neither of these abilities will have a large impact. We all know that those are very difficult tasks though, so be prepared to heal up people making mistakes.

Bouncing Bolts will likely hit everyone on your platform, so the shields/hots that you have available to you should be spread preemptively and the ability should be followed by some burst healing to get everyone back up. Static Shock is a terrible ability to deal with during the intermission. Hopefully whoever gets it can negate most of the damage via an immunity, but if not be prepared to stack and pop healing/damage mitigation cooldowns. Even then this ability has the power to take down people, just pray that it goes well.


Phase 2

Phase 2 throws some different abilities from phase 1 at you and creates some more interesting situations. On top of the aforementioned platform abilities you will have to deal with Fusion Slash on the tanks, Ball Lightning Damage, and Lightning Whip. Fusion Slash is the easiest to handle as it just requires some quick healing on one tank and switching your focus to the other tank. Easy peasy, right? Lightning Whip should also not do too much as long as your raid doesn’t stand on the lines left behind.

Ball Lightning on the other hand is the real mechanic of this phase. My raid dealt with it by having nine of our raiders standing the appropriate distance away from each other at ranged, and the rest of the raid in melee. The Balls were then pulled into melee and stunned. This made it so that the only people taking damage from them were our ranged soakers. You can prepare for this by keeping shields/hots on those people and being ready to heal the up when Ball Lightning goes out.

Now on top of that just remember the individual abilities for each platform as well as transitioning from one platform onto the next. No problem there, right?


Intermission 2

This intermission has the same mechanics as the first, but will be different in handling because you only have three platforms to cover. My raid dealt with this by having the majority of the raid stack up on one platform and having people who could solo soak Static Shock on the other platforms. This made healing all platforms significantly easier because (as long as Diffusion Chain and Bouncing Bolts were handled properly) there wasn’t any real damage going out during this intermission.


Phase 3

I’d like to say it gets easier here, but unfortunately it doesn’t. During this phase you have to deal with Lightning Whip, Ball Lightning, Thunderstruck, and Violent Gale Winds. All of these abilities combine to create a situation where you have to deal with consistent raid damage followed by serious burst damage. Just a regular stroll in the park at this point really.

Going into this phase you start off with Winds doing light damage which increases the more it goes out. This gives your raid a soft enrage to deal with and makes your life as a healer living hell if the dps don’t carry their own weight. Raid cooldowns should be saved for the later Winds/Thunderstruck combos, but use your personal healing cooldowns if you feel necessary. I tend to use mine after I’ve positioned myself coming back from Thunderstruck. Using it before Winds is generally a waste as you’ll be moving the whole time, and using it after you’ve positioned yourself helps get the raid back up before the next Winds goes up.

Bouncing Bolts are also going out occasionally, so be ready to heal whoever is staying out of melee to spawn them. There’s a lot going on here, but a shield/HoT on those soakers will make a world of a difference if you can toss it out.

Holy Paladin Healing Strategy

For this fight I use EF, HA, and Holy Prism.

During phase 1 I like to keep EF rolling on the melee for the first platform since they take the majority of the damage. I also save my Holy Prism for right after the Thunderstruck damage if the raid isn’t taking a lot of damage before that. After Thunderstruck goes out I use my Wings/HA to toss EF on the melee and as many ranged as I can. Since the melee end up out of range for a bit these HoTs are the only healing I do to them for a good portion of this platform. For the second platform transition I use DF once I position myself on the third platform and spam HR on the melee while using the HoPo for EF on ranged. For the last platform switch I use Guardian and bomb whichever stack has Static Shock on it.

This usually sets me up to have HA back up for the intermission. After Overcharged goes out I use HA and get an EF rolling on everyone in my platform, paying special attention to whoever has Helm on them. If we have to stack for a Static Shock I spam HR on our group to get up as big a Mastery shield on everyone as possible.

Going into phase 2 I pop Wings and get EF up on our Lightning Ball soakers. I use HR on the raid pile to build HoPo and then toss the EFs on the soakers throughout the majority of phase 2. As we transfer to the second platform of the phase, I use Divine Favor and HA to spam some quick healing on the raid. As we move to the third platform I usually use Devotion Aura to lessen the damage. The last platform usually doesn’t have large amounts of damage for us, so I just continue my strategy of EF on the soakers. The second intermission is usually dealt with the same as the first.

Due to when I burn cooldowns and the length of the intermission I usually have all of my cooldowns up for phase 3. I use HA to get EF up on as many people as possible before the first Wind and toss what healing I can during it. For the second Wind I burn Wings and do the same. By the third Wind damage is ramping up and the fight is getting crazy, so I use both DF and Guardian if necessary. The extra haste is nice to get your heals off as you run around like a headless chicken. After that just keep throwing up EFs and raid healing as best you can while praying that the boss falls down dead soon.

So we’ve had 5.3 out for a few weeks now and I feel pretty confident in talking about how the patch has affected healing now. Healing class balance changed drastically, and it seems that the focus on healing has changed completely. Holy Paladins definitely got a nerf, but looking at the numbers the issue is much greater than a simple numbers change for us. Healing classes have been up and down a lot this patch and it seems to be more than a problem with scaling that requires simple nerfs and buffs. The way that the healing classes are built is broken on many levels and it needs to be looked at carefully.

Holy Paladins in 5.3

As far as I can tell from my own healing, the Patch was not a huge overall nerf to us. The nerfs that did go through, mostly to mastery, have reduced our Illuminated Healing to about 83% of what it was before the Patch. We have also lost out on our T14 4 Piece bonus that many healers were still using. As a whole though, I don’t think that the Holy Paladin nerfs were as great as others are making them out to be. That’s not to say that our performance comparatively is where it was Pre-Patch though. According to the Raidbots Spec score system, Holy Paladin performance has taken a nose dive in 25 H raiding since the patch came out. While the effects weren’t as great for 10 H, they have also shown some signs of decreased Holy Paladin performance.

25 Heroic Raidbots Healing Spec Score from June 5

25 Heroic Raidbots Healing Spec Score from June 5

The above shows that Holy Paladins went from being the second healing class comparatively, to the fifth as far as Top 100 Rankings go. That drop looks to be huge compared to other healers, and it explains to me why I haven’t felt that the nerf was that great but other players have complained that it was huge. On a personal level the nerf really wasn’t that bad, but when seen in context of basically every other healer being buffed at the same time the Patch knocks us off a high horse that we had been riding all of MoP. The only healing class that isn’t performing worse than us in the 25 H Scene are Restoration Shamans, who in 25s are many times utility healers anyway.

10 Heroic Raidbots Healing Spec Score June 5

10 Heroic Raidbots Healing Spec Score June 5

10 Heroic has generally been more static as far as changes go, and this patch has proven to be the same. With the patch you can still see quite a jump in Restoration Druid and Mistweaver Monk healing, a small decrease in Holy Paladin healing, and surprisingly no change in Holy Priest healing. This shows that in 10, where the majority of raiding happens, the nerfs weren’t as pronounced comparatively. There is still a drop, but it’s nowhere near the nose dive that Holy Paladins took in 25 Heroics raids.

As a whole, the patch has had some serious effects in our competitiveness with other healers, but it seems that this is not due to the nerfs given to us directly. Other classes have simply been given the buffs that they needed since they’ve been underpowered for large periods of time. This taken with how powerful Discipline Priests continue to be has hugely detrimental effects on our strength. The majority of our healing comes from Illuminated Healing, and Discipline Priest’s absorbs are much stronger making our absorbs useless many times.

I think that as this expansion continues there is simply more and more proof that healing as it stands is in a terrible place. Absorbs are out of control, but nerfing them has huge repercussions for classes that use them due to much of healing being snipe healing. The way that we are moving forward doesn’t seem to be fixing this either.

Patch 5.4 and what it means for Healing

There hasn’t been much talk of what is actually happening in Patch 5.4 yet, but there have been hints dropped here and there by Ghostcrawler. Based on what I’ve read in the MMO discussion of the healing nerfs it seems that they believe absorbs are still very powerful and that the next Patch will focus on a HoT healing style for raid healing. They have also hinted that they think EF is still too strong and may be getting a nerf going into the next patch. All of this together seems to leave us in a very bad place as far as healing goes.

If we look at this expansion’s healing style that we’ve had so far and where it may be going, it paints a very bleak picture for healers in general. We started off with massive changes to stats in general this expansion that changed the way healers played. Where once our longevity improved as gear scaled due to higher mana pools with Intellect, now we had our mana set to a static amount. This brought the focus very heavily on Spirit for many classes sot hat we could have the mana to heal through an entire encounter. The new talents also brought with them complete remakes of every healing class while adding into the mix the Mistweaving Monks new with the expansion.

With all this change it was clear at the start of the expansion that Restoration Shamans and Restoration Druids were not doing well. Their healing style was based in a way that didn’t suit raid environments as well as other classes. To top it off the healing style based on absorbs was far too powerful to allow much healing to be done by classes who focused on HoT healing and snipe heals.

Healing as a whole needs to be looked at and the way that each healing class plays addressed. As much as it may seem a silly principle at times, it should be more about bringing the player than the class. Yet I know that a true Heroic healing team needs certain classes right now to perform at its best. A Restoration Shaman brings such powerful utility and while they can do some decent healing they seem to have become utility bots and mana batteries. Discipline Priests and Holy Paladins on the other hand have seemed almost necessary for a strong healing core due to the strength of absorbs and the raid utility that they have. Monks and Resto Druids on the other hand don’t seem to have as much class utility in the form of raid damage mitigation cooldowns and focus so heavily on sheer throughput that absorbs negate much of their healing. Yet if we move towards a situations in which this healing style becomes more viable, it has to be at the expense of absorb healers. This would once again leave at least two healing specs out in the dark and less relevant than the other healers available.

I’m not claiming to have a solution for any of this because frankly I don’t know how to fix this. What I am sure of is that there is an intrinsic problem in the way that healing classes interact and compare with each other currently. Our healing styles are counters to each other and only seem to work together on fights with massive amounts of constant raid damage. When that damage isn’t present it becomes more a situation of whose tools are more powerful and better suited to the job. While I understand that that will be the case sometimes, having great players sit out of progression continually because their class isn’t as powerful as somebody else’s is wrong. A healing core should be able to bring whatever classes they have available to bring down content, and make it possible for a great healer playing any class to compete and be useful.

Class Balance in Healing

Class balance has been a large issue for World of Warcraft for a while now, but the primary places that I’ve heard it talked about have always been either PvP/PvE or DPS comparisons. When players are competing with each other outright it’s much easier to make the comparison of is X better than Y. When it comes to healing the issue isn’t quite so black and white. While it’s nice to be able to be on top of the HPS meters, that’s not what truly matters in healing. Healing is more about making sure that everyone stays alive and is able to do their jobs, and each healer needs to be able to do that. While some healers are capable of putting out massive amounts of HPS, it isn’t always enough to make sure that the raid stays alive. Healers need the tools to be able to keep the raid alive through the mechanics we are presented with: sometimes that means damage mitigation, movement buffs, or other utility. There has always been a problem on the utility front for some healers, particularly Resto Druids. For a long time they were the only class with absolutely no form of raid or tank damage mitigation. They made it by simply by having the highest throughput available, and it worked because no one else had that kind of healing. This system was also present at a time when the role of “Tank” and “Raid” healers were still present though. Once other classes were given the tools to step out of those roles and started doing as much throughput as Resto Druids with the added utility, the class was left alone.

In a way we’ve run into a similar problem where certain classes are being slowly pushed into the role of utility classes. Restoration shamans seem to fit this role currently, but to bring sheer throughput healers up to a competitive par other healers will need to be there as well. This way of looking at healing will likely get rid of the sheer number competitiveness of healing, but it will do it by setting up somewhat more rigid roles. I don’t think that is the proper way to go about it.

I don’t really know of a way to fix this issue. It seems to be that absorbs are a huge part of the problem, but so is the lack of utility that certain classes have. Switching from an absorb focused healing encounters to HoT focused healing encounters isn’t the solution for this problem though. It will simply make it so that classes with HoTs are more powerful. In my opinion Blizzard needs to try to set up the same type of balance in healing that they’ve strived for in DPS, but it’s clear that they haven’t succeeded there yet either.

I don’t want to leave this off with some bleak outlook on healing. I want to have faith that Blizzard will be able to fix this, but I think it’s necessary that we make the issue heard. I also think its important that we present whatever ideas we may have to fix this to them so that healers are able to play and be competitive no matter what class they play.

So as most of you are aware, today Patch 5.3 dropped! With it come a few different changes that we need to be aware of as healers and specifically changes for Holy Paladins. I’ll try to write up on what I think is important, and later this week I’ll update the guide for 5.3. I’ll start by listing all the important changes for us.

  • Mastery: Illuminated Healing now places an absorb shield for 10% of the amount healed, down from 12%.
  • Daybreak is now a stackable effect with a duration of 10 seconds, stacks up to 2 times, and causes the next Holy Shock to also heal other allies within 10 yards of the target for an amount equal to 75%/150% of the original healing done. Daybreak no longer incorrectly hits the primary target of the Holy Shock.
  • Tier-14 Holy Paladin 4-piece set bonus now reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by 1 second, down from 2 seconds.
  • Glyph of the Battle Healer Using melee attacks while using Seal of Insight heals a nearby injured friendly target, excluding the Paladin, within 30 yards for 30% 20% of damage dealt. Major Glyph.

Battle Healer

I realize its a little odd to include this here as this nerf won’t apply to most Holy Paladins, but I’m aware that some people may be using this glyph. If so it’s important to note that it has had a 10% nerf applied to the damage>Healing conversion. It just makes the glyph even worse for us and means that our Protection Paladin brothers in arms can’t carry us with massive healing anymore. Oh well, it was nice to underheal fights while it lasted.


This change isn’t too complicated and is one of the few buffs we are being graced with this patch (Its really the only one but saying that makes me sad). It locks us into a HR>HR>HS rotation for our AoE healing, but an extra 50% healing from that Daybreak coupled with our Tier 15 Two Piece should be a nice boost to AoE healing. Hopefully this works out to give us a decent boost, although I doubt it’ll make up for our Mastery nerf.

Mastery Nerf

This is by far the biggest of the nerfs being applied to us. Our base Mastery is being nerfed by a flat 2%. The scaling is also being nerfed, so that we now need 480 points of Mastery to gain 1% Mastery instead of just 400.In total this means our Mastery will be doing about 83% of the healing it was doing before.  That’s a significant drop when on most fights Mastery can account for a few million in heals. It is also a roundabout nerf to Eternal Flame, and our Mastery’s ability to work so well with Eternal Flame is likely the reason it is being nerfed in the first place.

To try to explain that a little bit: Our Mastery applies a bubble based on healing done, and Eternal Flame is a 30 second Heal-over-Time. That means that if we constantly toss out Eternal flame as a spot heal to use up our Holy Power, we will be constantly building our Mastery over a large group of the raid. In so nerfing Mastery, instead of Eternal Flame, Blizzard is attempting to stop us from spamming Eternal Flame as a raid heal meant to stack our Mastery shields. This may make it so that we cast Light of Dawn more often, but I sincerely doubt that since EF itself is not being nerfed and it is still an overly strong spell. We’ll just have to wait and see how this effect plays out though.

Tier 14 Nerf

Another very important part of this patch for us is the nerf that is being applied to our Tier 14 4 Piece. It has remained an extremely powerful set bonus, so it is being nerfed to force us to move onto our Tier 15 gear. This really sucks as the newer bonus is not as strong as 2 seconds off of Holy Shock, but between stats and this nerf it is now necessary to drop Tier 14 gear.

Now, as to what gear to pick up. I am personally aiming to have my Tier 15 Four Piece bonus through use of the Helm, Shoulders, Gloves, and Legs. I plan on using the chest from Lei Shen unless I eventually don’t need the Spirit and can make use of some of the the other chests without Spirit. I personally think that this will be the best option as even the minor healing bonus from Four Piece is free healing. I very much understand the argument that the Four Piece isn’t worth it when we have some realistic alternatives though. Some other players that I have spoken to have decided to go for our Two Piece with the Helm and Shoulders and will be picking up some Thunderforged off pieces for all the other slots. The extra stats on these pieces may actually be more than enough to make up for the lack of the weak Four Piece, so both are viable choices in gearing. It all comes down to what you personally think will work best for you.

I’ll go ahead and list the Tier pieces and their possible off pieces in case someone is interested in seeing what is available to them.

I’ve only listed what I’m using for now. I have a final to go take shortly, so Ill update this later once I get some free time. 


Lightning Emperor’s Headguard


Lightning Emperor’s Mantle



Lei Shen’s Grounded Carapace



Lightning Emperor’s Gloves


Lightning Emperor’s Greaves