To the people we will happily never forget.

It’s weird the things you remember vividly when the most important people in your life die. It’s weird the things you remember when anyone dies, actually.

It was the time before ten year olds had cellphones. I forgot today was the day that we were being let out early. I was walking home, thinking to myself if anyone would be there. I didn’t have a key to the house and mild worry set in. My father worked as a prop player over 16 hours a day at a cardroom an hour away. He was my favorite person in the world and, coincidentally, the person I saw the least.

He rarely came home before 3am and he rarely stayed home after noon.

I knocked on the door. Rang the doorbell. Anxiously pulled at my backpack straps. I stared at my dirty white sneakers while the door opened. I looked up and my father stood there, worried.

“How come you’re home?”

“I forgot to tell Mommy I’m out early today.”

He smiled, then. We were a family of seven and my mom always loved to bring friends over. I walked into the house, slid my shoes off and asked if anyone was home. He said no.

I walked into the kitchen and could smell the spam and eggs before I saw it. I sat at the dining table and watched my father. There are so few moments like this: just the two of us, doing something absolutely mundane.

I swung my feet back and forth and watched my father fry a sliver of spam. He asked if I was hungry and I was enthusiastic.

Two slices of wonderbread, an overeasy egg and a perfectly golden slice of lunchmeat. A generous serving of ketchup to hold it together. One for him, one for me.

We sat at that table and ate, preening. Talking about absolutely nothing. Two overjoyed people, enjoying a two dollar meal in a quiet home.

I think about the sun that day. The dishes left for mom in the sink like a sneaky secret. I think about my father’s white, ribbed wifebeater. His adidas track pants. The crow’s feet of his smile and the worry lines in his forehead. I think about how he could say so much without saying anything.

I think about his slippers walking up the stairs after to take a nap.

I think about how, out of all of the moments, this is the one I wish lasted forever.

I miss you so much Papa. I’m sorry I didn’t write for you on Sunday. I’ve been feeling so weak lately. I’ve been feeling fragmented. Lost. Afraid. The opposite of everything you ever taught or gave me.

I’m so sorry for so many things, Papa. But this year I’ve learned to love people through the small moments that I wished lasted forever. The ones that aren’t monetary. The ones that aren’t extravagant or outwardly spectacular. The ones that your death taught me are going to be the most remembered.

I miss you forever.

in fire & flames

Disclaimer: During this time there are more important things to read; specifically, events and proper journalism of the current BLM movement to stay active, informed, and giving to change the injustice that has been happening for far too long in America. I have been actively donating, supporting and helping the movement in every way that is possible to me and encourage everybody to do the same.

This website is a journal dedicated to preserve the vignettes of my own life and is not in any way shape or form attempting to distract from this important, critical movement.

“A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.”

There is so much of my life I never want to forget. There is plenty more memories that I have wanted, begged and attempted to forget. I am twenty-six. Over twenty years of memories that fade more and more everyday, and a learned appreciation for every singular moment that allows me to feel.

All I want to do is write. Find the voice inside of me, breathe it into life and transcribe it into immortality. I don’t know if I want to live forever, or if there are memories that I want to live forever.

I was thirteen when it happened. I had come home after school. The house was empty. I climbed into bed for a nap and woke up to so many unusual noises. My heart jumped. I walked out of my room to peer over the staircase banister.

Two big men came from my brother’s room. I yelled his name in fear. I knew he wasn’t there, that these men weren’t his friends, but there was a small amount of hope.

They ran out the door. I ran back into my room. I called my oldest brother’s workplace. Said it was an emergency. There were men in the home. It takes twenty-six minutes from his restaurant to our house.

My breathing was shallow. Two minutes. The noises came again. I looked over the banister. They came back; moving quicker now. I locked my door. Locked the doors in the jack-and-jill bathroom. The bedroom next to mine. I climbed into an old, styrofoam costume that barely fit my body. Piled my dirty clothes on top. Sat in the closet. Four minutes.

My brother had a 911 operator call me. I remember her voice. She was sweet, calm. She sounded like the age I am now. Asked me to talk about anything. Narrate the situation. I focused on steadying my voice. My heart was beating fast. Tell my brother I love him I wanted to say.

I hadn’t told my brother I loved him since my father died. I swallowed it. Today will not be my day. I heard them come up the stairs. The pounding of their feet was so loud.

My brother locks his master bedroom. I heard the bang, bang, bang of them knocking it down. I heard the footsteps in the hallway. I heard the bang, bang, bang of the bedroom next to mine.

Then, a knock at the door of my room. The jingle of the doorknob. My breath was a whisper. My body was warm. His feet walked to the bedroom next to mine instead. So much rustling.

It felt like an eternity. In that closet. With that woman on the phone. I refused tears, emotions. I refused to feel. This numbing state I learned. This objective, neutral stasis. I was void of emotion.

They were so loud. Everything being thrown. Clanging. Banging. Stomping. Voices. “Hey what about in here?” I heard them in the hallway outside of my door. My heart felt like a live, caged animal.

I prayed to my father.

“No we have to go” My heart stalled. My breathing disappeared.

I heard a car in the driveway. Running down the stairs.

The front door open and slam. Silence. I spoke to the lady on the phone. “I don’t hear anything.” Another minute that felt like forever. Maybe two, three.

My brother’s voice echoed. “Jenny?” I told her I was safe. “Michael?” I yelled back. I looked at the phone to hang up. Thirteen minutes and twenty-three seconds.

I took the styrofoam costume off of me. Found the muscles in my body to move. Open the doorknob. My brother was coming up the stairs, his Kendo stick in hand. I ran into his arms, for the second time in seven years.

He held me. Then examined me. “Are you okay? Did they touch you? Did they hurt you?” I can remember his panicked face. He walked through the house. Pacing. Checking on everything. “Are you okay?”

“Yes I’m okay. They didn’t hurt me or touch me. I’m okay. They didn’t go into the room. They left me alone. Did you think they knew I was there?” It was a waterfall of word vomit. The cops walked through the front door. Two men, full uniform. They looked up at me as my brother walked from room to room.

They asked a lot of questions. Told my brother to stop touching things. Told me I was brave or something like that. They were very, very kind. I sat at the top of the stairs.

It took hours for them to finish. CSI came. Lots of paperwork. Questions. Details.

I asked my brother what happened. He told me he ran every light. Couldn’t even remember if they were red or green. Told me he pulled up to the driveway as the two men were leaving. Had his kendo stick in the car. Hit one of them hard until he fell to the ground, then the other. He grabbed one of them by the shirt. Had both of them at some point. One slipped away.

The cops came shortly after and arrested the one he was still holding.

They scolded him for his vigilante justice, but with slight jest. He said, “It was my little sister in there.”

I think a lot about this moment. How I felt. How lucky I was. I still can’t really sleep in new places alone anymore. I still can’t really sleep when it’s too dark outside. My mind races when I hear unusual noises. When I think too hard alone my paranoia sets in.

I hate being in a house where one person isn’t awake. My boyfriend sleeps alone a lot of the time. I have sporadic night terrors every now and then.

My friends, the guy I liked at the time, some of my cousins, everyone all told me that it was no big deal. For fifteen minutes I sat in fear. In cold, frightened helplessness. It was one of the first times in my life I have ever felt true danger. It was one of the only times in my life that it had ever lasted so long.

It feels like when you’re riding shotgun and another car drives in front. You yell at whoever is driving to swerve and for about fifteen seconds you don’t know if he is going to. It’s the exact moment of cortisol, adrenaline, and all of your favorite memories repeated for fifteen minutes straight. Then, without your control, scattered throughout your life at the worst moments.

One, singular, definitive moment in my life where I have ever had to feel danger. I am lucky my brother is a superhero. I am lucky those men didn’t want to hurt me. I am lucky that I have never had to feel that again.

I am lucky, still, that when cops see my brothers with weapons our skin color alone protected us from prejudice. I am lucky, still, to live a life that is not in constant danger. This is a situation where one of the worst things happened but the best possible outcomes followed shortly after.

This is a situation where racist people will try to tell you it was the skin color of the people who broke in that mattered. This is a situation where the same people need to be reminded that it was the skin color of my brother and I that actually mattered, and how disgusting it is that it is ever something that comes into consideration.

There are people of every skin color will hurt you. There are people of every skin color that will protect you. We do ourselves a disservice when we do not treat the people we meet equally.

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

For you.

Vietnamese is a tonal language. This means with a switch of the tongue or a stress in the throat, the simple word for Mother, Ma, in Vietnamese can turn into the word for ghost.

My mother was born well-off. A fancy fisherman’s daughter. The youngest girl in a family of six located on the beautiful beaches of Southern Vietnam. Maids in the house, silks on her skin, prestigious school books stacked on her desk and bounties of food in her stomach.

The Vietnamese war is historically a hundred years old. The Americans intervened and it quickly worsened. Her oldest brother was drafted. He was returning home after a long absence for a short, well-welcomed break. A few of his platoon followed. My mother adored him. She was younger than the age I was when my father died. He played with her on the sandy beaches, and doted on her like my oldest brothers had done endlessly for me. She told me he was the one who taught her how to hide mischievousness behind duty.

There was so much excitement on the day he returned. He paused in playing with my young mother to look over his shoulder. I imagine her laughter was an amplified, brutishly free version of what it is now.

A few feet away his platoon mates were tossing a live grenade. The pin was pulled. My mother says he ran fast towards it. Yelled at her to run faster away from it. His whole body jumped on top, and his separated, scattered body, splattered away.

She told me this story devoid of tone. She told me this story when I told her I hated my brothers. She told me this story with her eyes afar and her voice even.

In our culture, every piece of the deceased has to be collected and buried, otherwise they cannot have safe passage to the afterlife. There is a window of  time, starting from death, that their passage must be completed, otherwise their souls are stuck tormented on Earth for the rest of time.

This day was the day my mother found out how long it took to collect pieces of a favorite brother shredded by one, singular explosive. This day was the day my mother discovered that love meant picking up bloodied, squishy flesh between her fingertips.

His platoon mates lived. Everyone else on the beach lived.

Months to a year later her father traded all they ever had for safe passage on a docked American merchant ship. The conditions of this were that they could not leave until signaled, and that once signaled, they must immediately leave.

My mother told me they waited weeks on the boat. Rationing. Restless. Her second oldest brother, now the eldest, decided at week three it was all bullshit. He left the boat, saying he would return shortly. He was a rowdy soul who missed running, playing, and the debauchery of chasing women.

Within three hours of her eldest brother leaving, the alarms sounded. The Viet Cong had arrived. The boat left port within minutes. The passage to America was long and arduous. It would be years until my mother would see her brother again, and even longer, still, until she would enjoy a life that resembled anything of her childhood before death.

Her father grew angry. Dissident. He was an old-world, hardened Vietnamese man, heavy on traditions and culture; transplanted into an ever-changing, ever-confusing American world. My mother was fighting a war for feminism she didn’t even know existed. She says if you look closely at her body you can still see the fissures of the bamboo that once struck.

My mother’s mother had lost all six siblings before puberty. Fought for her life, seeking refuge in a mountainside while she watched her own brothers and sisters waste away from famine. One night she fell asleep with a family, and the next morning crawled out under decaying corpses, an orphan.

I don’t know more of her story. But it seems, from my mother’s blood, we are women cursed with the loss of those who we chose to love most.

I was the fifth child my mother and father had. I was the first child my mother did not want.

Before I could remember, my obsession was words. By the time I started kindergarten I read more, faster, and with more vigor and interest than anyone my teachers had seen. I was a Vietnamese American child, speaking in two tongues but consuming only in one. By the time that I was seven I had amassed so many Accelerated Reading points they wrote my name in the newspaper.

I told my mother. It’s going to be on Sunday.

That’s great, baby.

The days before my parents got into a fight. She left home and returned a week later.

I never saw the feature.

My teachers used to write letters to my parents. Paragraphs that had to be stapled to my report cards to obsess over my excellency.

It seems, for every singular word my mother didn’t read about me, I had to read ten thousand more.

When I was nine I looked for a deeper connection to my beautiful mother. I snuck into her nightstand drawers. Found her Danielle Steele. Her collection of Scottish Highlands smut. I traced their embossed covers, studied the Fabio men, long-haired, willowy white women. I opened each book, fingered the spines and read faster than all the records I had beaten at school.

My face went flush. I could hear someone coming up the stairs. I shoved them back into the stacks they belonged. Ran into the master bathroom. Felt the porcelain of the toilet on my forehead. Perhaps a million or more words I had ever read by this time. But never those ones. My mother, too, was a reader. Like me. Different, but the same.

Nightly I would peak at what my mother was reading before bed. Wait until she fell asleep or forgot. Read all the pages. Attempted to understand.

Anything that was my mother’s curiosity was mine. An unperceived, perceptive child.

It is easy to say you love your mother. It is easier, still, for some to say they don’t.

My mother has done my hair a total of three times in my life. The first time I was six. She burned me with a curling iron three times: above the ear, on the side of my ear, and behind my neck. She was curling it because my father’s sister asked her why she never did it. She told me I fidgeted too much and lacked obedience.

The second time I woke up early, for the first time in my life, for the first day of third grade. I begged her. With tears in my eyes. She said no. I said, in front of my father, all of the other mothers do it. She yanked me up the stairs. Pulled my hair aggressively and taut into a pony tail. I can feel the memory of how hard she pushed the bristles into my scalp to smooth it out. Her upper lip was curled and I refused to look in the mirror. The redhead who sat next to me had a fishtail braid, tied with a yellow sunshine gingham ribbon. Her name was Lauren. I pulled my hair out before recess.

The third, and final time I watched her get ready for work. I was in sixth grade. It was the night before picture day. She had rollers in her hair. I told her she was beautiful. She was in a good mood. I told her I wanted to look like her. She preened. She took her leftover rollers and pinned up half my hair. Make sure you sleep still otherwise they will fall out. I nodded. Ok, you know how to do the rest, right? I nodded.

In the morning, we took them out together. I was so happy I could’ve cried. My mother and father told me I looked beautiful. A boy named Wendell told me I looked like a Castlevania character. I didn’t shower for days, trying to keep the feeling. My mother keeps this photo next to my brother’s Air Force one on her car dashboard.

I moved away at eighteen the second I had the chance. I felt vindication. Then guilt. Then shame. Then, only sadness.

There are few things in my life I have found more complicated, more confusing or more painful than the relationship with my mother. I have written one hundred and thirteen letters to my father. Less than a fraction to my mother.

There are always less words to the living.

My mother and father never taught me how to ride a bike, drive a car or race a scooter. There was no participation in bake sales, open house nights or parent teacher conferences. Your report cards were your own secret and dinner was a possibility.

Family time was waiting until 3am when dad came home from work, and attempting to not fall asleep before school.

My mother and father taught me ingenuity. Creativity, strength, the power of sheer will and belief. The lengths a child will go for time and attention.

My mother taught me charm. The magic in the right outfit, the sparkle in a proper lipstick on the right night. She taught me how to make men happy, and, conversely, without control, how to drive them insane. The latter, still, twenty-six years later I struggle with.

My mother taught and guided my sexual spirit. My mother taught me that anything that was not an astounding YES was a resounding NO. My mother taught me that a boy who wanted to dry hump me at seventeen was not a boy who was to be kept or kissed.

My mother taught me that her love for me as a whole was confused, but her need for me to be protected, vigilant, and strong were unquestioned. My mother taught me that my sexuality was mine alone to explore, and there would be no person who could stop or press it. My mother taught me that a colorful life will be lived in between shades of various grey, and that people have varying palettes.

My mother taught me that loss is life, and not living is weakness.

My mother may not have taught me many things, but her lessons were the foundations of thousands more. My mother taught me that, despite her best efforts, if she could not break me, nobody else could.

My mother did not teach me how to be a girlfriend, a wife, or a mother. My parents did not teach me how to be in love, or how to be loved. Only how to stay. How to fight. How to make the walls shake. How to make love. How to scream. How to cry. How to laugh. How to be impulsive. How to break plates. How to buy many fancy cars. How to make a lot of money and do many grand gestures.

My therapist is teaching me how all of these, individually or as a whole, does not equal love. My therapist is teaching me how all of these, individually or as a whole, is not the epitome of love.

My therapist is teaching me how, my story, and my mother’s, does not have to end without love.

My therapist is teaching me how my mother has taught me one of life’s most important lessons: what was once loved can never be lost. That the child can still live, even while the adult forgives.

Happy Mother’s Day, Ma.

Latency & Lessons.

I’ve either been late or completely missed my therapy session for the past four weeks.

She called me out on it.

When I was three or four my mother and father bought me a beautiful jade bangle. It matched my mother’s bangle and my father’s ring. I absolutely hated it. I thought it was clunky, aged, ugly. She had cut me a fresh apple or peach. Quartered, but left whole. Wrapped in a damp napkin. Put on a plate or a bowl. She handed it to me, distracted by someone else of her age. She looked at me for a whole five seconds. Don’t run. I looked up at her, lingering when her eyes left. She had done the floors that morning, and I could tell because of the acrid bleach smell. The smoothness beneath my feet.

I walked a little out of sight. I can remember the exact floor plan of that two-story home. The carpeted living room but tile kitchen, tile dining room. It was 1998 or so and open floor plans didn’t exist, just those wide, door-less arches that connected common areas.

I knew she wasn’t looking. And god did I run. Just in a circle. Just for no reason. Back to the archway of the kitchen. And I fell. Slammed into the tile. Jade bangle first, plate second. A little too dumb, a little too young to properly brace a fall. I looked up and saw my mother run to me. I started sobbing. The bangle was in pieces, mixed with the ceramic. A lot of me was glad. What an ugly thing.

My mother scolded me in a half-assed manner. Reached to clean the fruit, the floor, the smooth, sharp pieces of bangle. The plate. She looked at me with equally edged eyes. I told you not to run. It was her friend who asked if I was alright.

In this household you do not get comforted over mistakes you were told not to make.

In my childhood I was only given a few pieces of jewelry. The jade bangle. A gold necklace. And a small, heart-shaped amethyst necklace, also in 24k carat gold. I remember when we bought it. I was eight or nine and we had just moved to a new house. After a six month sleepover at my uncle’s. I was holding both of my mother’s and father’s hands as we walked into a well-lit jewelry store.

My mother told me it had been too long since he bought her something. She passed through the displays. Her sapphire birthstone glistened in a corner collection. She pointed. My father laughed. She moved her finger to the left. An amethyst. A small, fingernail-sized heart amethyst. Oooh that one. She pointed. I jumped. Pulled on their hands. I smiled so widely it turned into gleeful laughter.

I didn’t know what jewelry was before then. What it cost. What it was supposed to make you feel, or why it made you feel. I didn’t know anything beyond the rings worn for marriage. And here I was, barely entering puberty, with my father putting something around my neck that made me so damn happy.

I wore it every day until the baby hairs in the back of my neck caught on the clasp so badly they tangled in knots. My mother took it out and told me she would have it cleaned.

My father let my uncle stay with us for a short period. He was a vagrant. A funny, boisterous, always-drinking, always-laughing man who wore a religious uniform of a gold chain, grey wifebeater, and track pants that went swish swish. He paired these with flip flops, cigarettes and very long pinky nails. He had dark, tanned, hard skin, and a single lesson for every hardship, pain, issue or argument: Ain’t no thang but a chicken waaang!

We were a family of 7 people and four bedrooms. One bedroom was always my parent’s. One for my eldest brother, who had a long term girlfriend and, to my father, had earned the right as a man. One for the rest of us. And, the last: for whichever friend or person or buddy in my parent’s lives that needed it the most.

A few weeks later I asked my mother if I could wear my necklace again. The look on her face told me we forgot about it. We went to where she had put it down last. In the bottom row of squares of her jewelry box.

This, and a set of her sapphires and silver were missing. My mother told me she misplaced it. Would find it soon. I knew, for an entire decade of my life, my mother grew up without many things of her own and would never nor has ever misplaced anything of value or not of value.

I looked down and huffed. By the time I looked back again I could feel my mother’s anger. It quieted the world around her. Her whole face, her whole body grows hot. The way it looks. The way every single muscle tenses. She walked into the bedroom, grabbed my phone and called my father. I remember the screaming. Get him out or I get out. Something like that in angry, biting, violent Vietnamese.

One day I came home from school and my uncle was gone. My father died a few years later. My uncle was murdered for heroin in a motel parking lot.

I bounced around homes. Came back to the one I grew up in. I was fifteen or sixteen or somewhere in between. My mother and I had got into an aggressive fight taking me home from school. She slammed the door of the Lincoln Navigator my father bought her so many years before. I sobbed into my own hands. The kind that makes you lose your breath. The kind that’s in between panting and hyperventilating. I had never felt so alone.

I self-soothed. My eyes were red, swollen, puffy, throbbing. They were dry and raw. In this household you do not get comforted over mistakes you were told not to make.

She had left the car keys in the cupholder. I lifted them.

My necklace.

I rubbed my eyes raw once more. Picked up the gold strand. The amethyst felt like a heavy, weighted diamond. The gold setting that held the amethyst was bent, but the heart was still intact.

Thinking of the story now I am sobbing. There are so many words. So many lessons in this life. There are a million my father has taught me. A billion more he never got the chance to.

A decade later I have been loved and admired enough to have received many more pieces of jewelry. Some of the most expensive purposefully lost. But in my entire life I have never had one more purposefully found: this small, necklace with a heart-shaped, semi-worthless stone that was, at one time, worth the height of my happiness.

It was four in the morning when I started this piece. My mind was wandering and my head was not so right. There were words and patterns swirling in my head. I told her I would not be late again. And if I was, I would write about why I was late. And if I wasn’t late, I would have a piece of writing to share. Pieces of my thoughts. The things that linger from memories that have yet to fade.

I spent another forty-five minutes looking for the necklace. Wondering what the lesson was worth if I still lost it in the end.

I always think that I don’t do well alone. That I’ve always been an amplifier, never the sound. I can understand more people, more viewpoints than most. Because I’ve spent my life being internally raised by two split souls: my father, my mother. The saint, the sinner. The giver, the taker.

My father would never have bought me something I cherished so much if my mother had never shown me how to cherish it so much. My father would never have been my father if my mother did not charm him, entrance him, tease him, keep him.

No matter how alone I feel, my father, my mother, my brothers and all the people I have ever collected and kept have always made it not so.

The necklace was stolen, broken, pawned, returned and once again, lost. The necklace was $100 when we didn’t have $100. It was a yes to what should have been a no. The necklace wasn’t love, but a reminder of love.

I was never stolen. Only broken, returned, and often times again and again, lost. I am not my my mother. I am not my father. I am not the people who have never loved me. I am not the people who have ever disliked me, hated me or ignored me. I am not my failures, my lack ofs, my shortcomings.

I am a reminder of all of the people who have ever loved me. The books, places, things, ideas that I love. I am the constant creation of everything that I have worked hard to decide that I am. I am not an echo, a mirage, a memory. I am real. My actions are real. I am important.

I can be the sound. If I want to be the sound.

x, 1

I started therapy the other day. A fulfillment of a promise I made to myself this year. One of many.

I hope you know everything you tell me is confidential

I know. I laughed, nervously. It was over the phone because of my newfound anxiety. Her voice felt like the first warm apple pie during a long winter. Was everything she told me confidential?

I cried within the first fifteen minutes. The kind of crying that waterfalls from your eyes with minimal sound and no force. The kind of crying that happens when everything of you is unbelievably exhausted.

I’ve been having anxiety attacks, aggressive, frightening, panic attacks. My stress has been leading to insomnia, causing an inability to focus or have regular, normal emotions. I no longer like being outside. Around people. I have developed an aversion to crowds, strangers, public spaces and unknown places. All of my previous favorite things. I cancel plans and miss flights because I find myself sobbing uncontrollably and screaming at myself, irrationally angry. I am the opposite of who I used to have always been.

Two years ago I had more hours in a day than I’ve ever had before. I suffocated myself in exponential growth and obsessive learning. I excelled in everything I attempted. One year ago I began to see the fruition of my wildest dreams.

A few months ago I started reading more biographies. Studying documentaries. Reading articles and psychological studies. Trying to find an explanation for everything I knew that started feeling wrong with me.

In autobiographies very few people mention their own crazy. They hide it in a bliss of madness; the insanity is laced through the brilliance. Most people who write about themselves romanticize their own psychosis. Or maybe it’s more simple and less sinister. In your own worldview, your mistakes are footnotes in all of your greater creations.

In biographies, secondhand accounts, witness statements–these same people are crucified for their short-comings. Their failures, mental breakdowns. These people (inventors, singers, actors, musicians, writers…) become known as divas, bitches, assholes, eccentrics… famed for their talents but colorized, largely, by snippets of mental instability. They are successful “but” brash, angry, arrogant. They are great but human.

My brother once told me that living is being in a constant state of flux. I think of my mind like this: a pretty jar floating in the ocean, perfectly buoyant, surfing with the tide. And when I’m sad or not right I close my eyes: the same pretty jar, swept by currents, swirling in a typhoon. Loud. All-consuming. Suffocating. I don’t know why I was led to believe I couldn’t ask for a life raft. A pulley through the rain. I don’t know why I was led to believe I had to fight the sharks and the tides and the fury.

I lived through it alone a lot. Through the years since my father had gone. I thought it was a yearly affliction that was attached to my weakness. A parasite bonded to my insecurities: a simple issue caused by my simple lack of enough.

I didn’t know it was a possible symptom to the conditions of existence. I didn’t know it was a prevalent side effect to just being sometimes.

We are, by evolution, chasing a perfection unallowed. A race of billions praying for a profound.

I attempt to cope superficially yearly. Different methods. Breaking quarterly. Wondering why a house isn’t enough when built on unstable ground. I fight constantly with who I am, measured up next to who I should be, who I think I want to be. I close my eyes and who I am never matches with this woman in my dreams and I wonder really who put her there. This whimsical waif made of diamonds and designer that speaks with poetry, sounds like velvet and fucks like magic. This beautiful being that was all the best parts of me at once with none of the disparity. I close my eyes and dream of the purity of my heart, mind & soul in harmony.

Intimately when I’m alone what do I want most? In the dark of my bedroom, bare skin under white sateen sheets. Who am I when all the rest slips away and it’s only me at night?

If tomorrow can be designed, what do I want most? The bills paid in advance, clients to be overjoyed, employees ecstatic and productive. Business partners impressed; vacations planned, wishlists emptied and cravings sated.

 The tiny waist and beautiful curves. My own full lips and hopeful jawline. Smiling whites and slanted deep brown eyes. Soft skin and a happy glow.

At one point of my life I had all of these separately but never all at once. I want to be in love with myself like how in love I am with others. I want to be in love with myself like how in love others are with me.

I’m half a bottle of wine in and I’ve been drafting this post for two months. I’m buried in irrelevancy; dipped myself behind the curtain to do great work for people in front of it. I always wondered if I could live, survive, love myself without the vanity. My therapist says vanity is human and there are a hundred levels of it.

We’re six or so sessions deep now. She told me about the duality of my soul: the disapproving mother and the overtly loving father. When you’re three and barely cognizant your mentality is forming without your choice. When you’re twenty-six and sobbing your mentality snaps back to these pointed stages, like a rubberband in the dark. Without your choice.

I want to write a million and two words. Scream at the mountains and pray to my father. I am overwhelmingly loved by so many except for myself. I know I am severely flawed, but have always tried to do good, even at the expense of everything else.

I am behind in every goal I have ever wanted, but I am alive. Happy. Working. Trying.

Were these all the goals I actually just needed?

an ode to my favorite revolution

i found out one of my favorite bloggers in the entire world from early 2000s closed her blog and i felt such an immense sadness when i found out that i cried.

i’ve followed it since i was in seventh grade. i had no real, constant female voice through puberty and i would obsess over her coming of age posts for advice and guidance and wisdom.

i remember the words she wrote of partying, love, body dysmorphia… weight, love, writing, work, and developed my own methodology for life based on this woman from the other side of the world. when i felt the most lost or confused i would binge her blogs like the most important commandments.

there were questions i didn’t know how to ask. i was fourteen, fatherless, mentally motherless, and beyond lost. searching for femininity, sexuality, hope. a life that i could look forward to growing up: something more interesting than thirty years of schooling, missionary sex and one man for the rest of my life until i died.

i became a voracious reader of textbooks, teen fiction, adult fiction, the great poets, novelists, and at night i would still fall asleep rereading the words of a woman who made adulthood feel like something worth making it to.

i befriended her when i became old enough to: sixteen years old and unabashed about having a hero. i think about showing her this post, maybe. how the stories of her life echoed with my brothers and all of my favorite novelists when i made decisions. how special and great it is when we have our few yearly correspondences.

when i think of quitting writing or this blog of my own i think of the girl i used to be; selfishly hoping that just maybe there is another out there reading my paragraphs in the dark.

the internet is a remarkable place for showcasing remarkable souls.

thirteen years of me were so blessed to read over fifteen years of you.

thank you forever, H ♡

character building

i can feel myself slipping through my own fingertips: everything i once loved and enjoyed cascading through my skin

there are new things i love. new parts of me, new stories and collected memories. there are new things i like. people, things, methodologies. coffee in abundance, schedules, assistants, and the feeling of steady employment and exponential growth

but why does it feel like a trade? the parts of me that i loved before feel lost, gone: distant pasts existing only in polaroids, mini dresses, stilettos and bottles of don julio blanco

i reread the pages of this blog, my private journals and public musings. the way i used to write about this girl i used to know: sweet, effervescent, dangerous, reckless and stress-free. she was one hundred and fifteen pounds of magic, trailing glitter and laughter and leaving memories and happiness like wildfire

i had two rules back then: live for the story and  do it with conviction. i’m technically late twenties now: punctuated by polite nights with treasured friends instead of loud music, blacked out memories and aggressive dancing.

they say when you get older you know more about what you really want. a cat and a home and a stable income. people who love me… but im twenty-six at four in the morning and if you asked me what i was missing now maybe the answer just might be limes.

my therapist asked me what i do now when i’m sad. write, read… bury myself in work.

and she asked me what i did before when i was sad. i laughed. oh jeez… drink, eat, cry, vomit?

i’ve lived six different lives so far. maybe wanting limes isn’t as bad as chasing with them.

lessons from twenty-six

last weekend i looked in your eyes and they looked exactly like mine. you’re almost seven months and they left you alone with me for seven minutes and my heart pounded and flinched at the amount of responsibility

you are magic I whispered you will always be able to do anything you want to

i saw you smile and i felt the world melt away. your mommy and daddy love you so much, I can’t wait for you to see 

I want to tell you everything I loved being told. I wanted to hold you forever. you squirmed and fidgeted and laughed.

I panicked and gave you back. there’s so much to know. I sat on the plane and thought what I’d tell you first.

i think about the past few years. how quickly i left highschool, the eleven cities i wandered lost. the places I loved most. the people I liked least. the man I loved the most.

i hope ten years from now when you ask me questions my answer will be the same. i hope twenty years from now when you ask me what to do i tell you the truth.

choose love. when it comes to life, feeling rarely becomes regret. the memories you remember the most are the ones that you fight the strongest for. when things feel difficult, it means there’s more to learn.

don’t hurt yourself too much. nobody can protect you from heartbreak; but the world has given you people who will always love you enough to hold you through them.

we are not perfect. people were not made to be stagnant. people were not made to live their lives in one perpetual motion. the people who come into your life are still important even when they have to leave.

even if it’s hard, try to remember. the memories that hurt the most are hiding the memories that feel the best.

life is about feeling; they’re too sacred to regret. pain is a lesson. you’ll meet someone one day and they’ll feel like heaven. if you don’t allow yourself to fall, you’ll always wonder.

growth will never be hating anybody who ever made you feel. sometimes crying purifies the soul. sometimes it’s annoying, wasteful bullshit.

choose love. in yourself, first. in your family, second. and whoever chooses you, too, third.

when it gets dark: breathe easy. the sun always rises if you have enough courage to last the night.

I wish I could give this life to someone who wanted it more.

My thoughts get louder and everything feels distant. I miss the silence; the over-confidence, the cleverness. In complete irony, I miss what everyone who I’ve met before laments for: the girl.

late night ramblings with early morning mixes. somewhere between an update and a mildly depressive, pedantic word vomit

Whenever I get stressed or upset or sad I walk into the kitchen.

Sometimes I grab a bottle of 409 and scrub. Other times I empty out my fridge and try to make something I’ve never made before. Every time it ends with feeling like I am where I belong.

There’s a loneliness that happens when you treat life like a competition. Somehow everyone turns into competitor, and very few people ever turn into allies.

2019 was the year of aggressive self-discovery for me. A lesson in relationships, in business–in partnerships of romance, of finance, of familial. Lessons in who I was, who I wanted to be, and who I kept ending up like.

My mind always goes back to the two people who I came from. I’ve made a million bad mistakes and maybe thirty two good ones. The good ones are all people. Friendships and kindness I happened into that I probably had no business in having.

What do you care about in life? Honor, character, perseverance. Respect, longevity. What influences it? Maybe a hundred and one rewatches of Mulan. Jesus, how did I get here? I think sometimes when I sit down to work.

Oh my god, how did I get so lucky? I think most of the time when I sit down to work.

It’s interesting how long 500 days sounds like when it’s barely a fraction of anything relatively important in the timeline of your life. When was the last time you did something or felt something for 500 days? The last time you changed shampoo brands, used a different toothpaste or had something for the first time?

500 days is the lifespan of a child still being counted and measured by months.

500 days is the starting title and premise of a very unsettling romance film.

500 days is the amount of time it took to go from relatively nothing to stunning expertise in a very specialized career.

I used to repeat to myself over and over Everything starts with a day one and I never absolutely understood. Momentum in my life felt like sitting in a car blindfolded. I spent twenty four years of my life feeling barely above water. Can I take the blindfold off now?

I want to stop the car, but it doesn’t.

My counselor told me that people who’ve experienced life changing trauma sometimes feel afraid of happiness. My counselor told me once before about imposter syndrome.

I was sixteen, a junior flunking out of high school since I forgot how to get out of bed in the morning. I had mandatory counselor sessions every day because I was mentally high risk. Ten years later I still don’t know how to get out of bed some mornings, but I found a job where I didn’t have to.

I’ve replaced the counselor with a cat, boyfriend and a liter or two of patron. Cliches suck but everyone knows them.

People always want to talk about millennial issues and maybe the big one is the internet because it makes us lazier, less stimulated. Ten years ago I thought marijuana was a hard drug. Now I feel like hard drug lies somewhere between DHT and PCP. But once in a club bathroom one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen talked about how much she loved Angel Dust.

That’s when things get confusing, maybe. When you follow the beautiful, effervescent girls. Then you become one. Then you stop being one.

I’ve changed songs about fifty two times throughout writing this. I still think I’ve been through more friendships in more phases in 500 days.

People don’t like you when you’re not fun anymore. When you’re not young, lithe; free. But do you like you?