There are a lot of tragedies to being a woman.

There are a lot of tragedies to being a man, but I don’t really know about those ones.

I keep trying to fit into things that were not meant for me; things not made for me. I keep browsing websites and photos and magazines and ads of women who don’t look like me. Women who don’t think like me; women who might fuck like me. I keep looking at, envying about, women who aren’t me. Praying to be like somebody who isn’t me, praying to be somebody I know nothing about.

I think it’s my favorite tragedy. My favorite past time–being tragic. Being overtly, helplessly, ridiculously romantic.

I don’t know anything about these waifty women wearing handkerchief dresses with their razor-edged jawlines and cherried lips. I don’t know anything about buxom babes or plastic carved, silicone sculpted angels.

Even statues of our virgin Mary weeps.

Most of the time I don’t know anything about myself. I know that sometimes she’s pretty. That sometimes there are men who think she’s beautiful. I know that her mother thinks of her and cries often. I know that she is as loved as she is hated; and I know that most of these feelings are self-manifested and personally formed.

I think in this lifetime I’ve drank more alcohol than water, spent more than saved and earned more than enjoyed. But I know in this lifetime I’ve made more love than I’ve ever fucked; protected more than I’ve destroyed, and kept vastly more than I’ve lost.

We are not the cumulation of our mistakes. We are not paintings created purely from flaws.

It’s okay to be broken today. To be sad tomorrow.

It’s okay to swim through a depressed existence.

It’s okay to live through differentiated facets.

It’s my favorite thing to cry.

rambling to remembering

what do you do when a trained professional tells you there may possibly be something wrong with the chemical composition of your mind?

well first, you think, fuck

then, second, you think, oh

then, thirdly, you think of all of the hundreds of times you or the people around you (or the people who raised you, grew you, lectured you, fucked you) told you this was a possibility begins to play like a movie reel in your head. the sound of click, click, click the ironic background music of your life’s I Told You So soundtrack. part one of probably, possibly a million.

the memories came out like a waterfall of emotions. a torrential storm of feeling, tears, sounds, words, noises. the audible, uncomfortable choking in your throat when the words that escape are the ones that have always reached back and around to squeeze, strangle, asphyxiate. the words that force their way back down your throat, into your stomach. the words that nest in your heart and whisper to you in the darkness when your mind is asleep and good sense is lost in dreams and noise.

it was the people that hurt me. the people that loved me. the people that scared me, frightened me, touched me, fucked me, forgot me, raped me. it was the people who sat with me in the darkness while my tears and wails and heart echoed in a vacuum. it was the people who held me when all sound left me, the people who chose me, who remembered me, who whispered to me. the people who carved into my skin over and over and over again and forced the scar tissue in my throat, mouth, thighs, the scar tissue inside the places I could only feel and not see. it was the people who shoveled me liquor into a quieter, sweeter, softer abyss.

but it was never people at all; just me and the versions of me. the little girl on the floor of her deceased father’s bed, repeating the words no, no, no into the knees pressed against her chest. the teenager on the floor of an empty master bathroom, staring at mirrored closet doors, carving her own wanting into her thighs, her neck, her spirit. it was the the twenty-year old in a cab; the eighteen-year old in an empty hotel room, the mosaic of nights spent on my own bedroom floor, making flawed decisions about men and women. it was the me: carving her own wanting further beneath the skin of herself.

it was the precarious still brown eyes staring back at every turn. the small, chubby hands clutching the tequila, the scissors, the knife, the cock, the despair.

it was the hope that maybe all of these were not me.

it was the slow discovery that each iteration was only another facet.

at each life event my mind declares a reckoning. an event of severe self mutilation to know the taste. an impeccable matter of self destruction to understand the feeling. it was seventy-nine days of boxing with Tyson in the ring of my own mind for the championship round of my mind.

Twenty-seven! This was your pact. You can stop now. We’re tired and sleepy and would like to rest…

It’s sweet at first.

You’ve accomplished everything on your list. Mom’s okay, the boys are fine, Luna will have a home, there are no sad children, no sad boyfriend

It’s bargaining now.

Not another fucking day of this absolutely mundane insanity...

It’s anger builds.

Well, if we’ll be here, then we might as well have some fun...

The migraine begins. The drinking starts. The bad decisions marathon.

The memories blurr.

What did you do you useless fuck? You don’t deserve to live...

The anxiety begins.

Look at you. You can’t do anything right...

The hatred replicates. The child cries.

I sat in the bathtub. Visualizing each step. The cold porcelain pulsates against a radiating migraine.

Who will find me? How will they feel? Will they be okay?

My fingers scratch crescent moons into the red-spotted galaxies of my palms.

Does it matter?

No, please, no please, no please… a muffled child cries. Her dribble and tears dripping down her calves and knees to puddle at her ankles.

We’ll be safer. It will be quieter. No more bad decisions, no more disappointments. No more urges, no more anger...

The child squeezes her eyes shut. Her hands pressed against her ears, her elbows at her side, fingertips massaging her skull. Dad, Michael, Mom. The names of her family continuing in succession. The thoughts of her lookalike niece, her growing nephew and her future memories cascade from the sky of her mind. the thoughts of her brothers’ tears and mother’s fears. the thoughts of becoming a past tense. of becoming the person people held only wishes and regrets about. the thoughts of becoming a picture frame on a mantle and a body in the ground. the thoughts of transforming from a living to a remembering.

the smell of incense fills my nose. the quiet, loud thudding of my heart echos in my ears. a human alone is a sad, dangerous thing. my mind triggers the smell of marlboro reds and my father’s cologne.

When people find out that my father died young they always ask what saved me. What got me through it. It was four boys, all unlike in dignity. I’ve asked them all at least once if God was real, how could this be true? Why would good people die and how could it all hurt so much? Faith in the middle of despair is a flickering candle in an unapologetic darkness.

The coolness of the porcelain tethers me to reality.

The memories slip, time slides; my brain is a cascade of all the things that happened before and all the things that may happen after.

I feel the calmness of my breath gathering my sanity.

If there is faith, there is afterlife.

My father will hold me again; as a warrior of demons or a victim of one.

I think of her once more: grateful, calm, strong. Confident. Passionate. Furious. Steady. Her hands loosen. Her heart relaxes. The breath escapes. The control gathers. It was me who dropped the tequila, the scissors, the knife, the cock, the despair. It was me who once held happiness, laughter, hope. Creativity, intelligence, wonder.

It was me who picked up the shield, the sword.

In the shadows behind the tears of death the Valkyries await our valor for judgement.

On the battlefield of life the enemies are just camouflaged innards and sometimes we are just alone, dazed and confused with funhouse mirrors and reflections of an us we refuse to want to know.

When I was younger

When I was younger I used to dream about the kind of man I wanted to conquer me, the kind of man that was meant to devour me. When I was younger I used to dream about only having one who knew the taste of me; the feel of me, the scent of me.

When I was younger my mother used to tell me dirty jokes with mirth in her eyes and a smirk on her lips. Her pupils shone and a laugh slid from her throat. When I was younger my mother told me be careful who you kiss because from there it’s only slippery. I was eleven, frightened, confused, stunned.

When I was fifteen I was in lust with a Chinese-Vietnamese boy who smiled my name and begged for the first kiss from my lips. I was fifteen, frightened, with my clothes pressed against a boy and his navy blue sheets and the word No repeating through the air. I was fifteen when I saw his frustration, his hardness, his sadness. I was fifteen when I saw the disregard. The selfishness.

I was fifteen, in the kitchen of his home with his mother who told me she was disgusted by my fatness. That she was surprised how I could be Vietnamese if my mother allowed me to end up this way. I was fifteen, frightened, staring into the eyes of a boy who looked away.

When I was seventeen I met a Mexican man who smirked my name and promised me fairytales in first kisses. I was seventeen on my first date at my childhood wharf, impressionable and cradled under a twinkling Christmas-lighted sky surrounded by laughter, lightness. I was seventeen with a man women swooned for, who cupped my face with his hands and breathed promise into my heart. I was seventeen when I said Yes to someone else’s lips. I was seventeen when I felt special, seen, adored. Charmed.

I was seventeen, in the pink painted bedroom of my own home with New Years Champagne on my lips when I found his girlfriend of five years plastered against the same lips that stole mine. I was seventeen, frightened, understanding my mother’s slipperiness.

When I was eighteen I met a mixed boy running away from home who craved the rest of my firsts. I was eighteen, in my first hotel room without my mother, trembling, shaking, crying. I was eighteen when I held the remaining porcelain childishness of myself and violently smashed it against soiled white hotel sheets. I was eighteen, forlorn, pressed against cool white tile with hot tears puddling into my own chest and nobody else to blame.

I was eighteen, staring at his proud smile, with reddened eyes and ruptured skin he later told me he never noticed.

A Korean man drove me home after while I told him the story. I was only eighteen when he asked if he too could have a taste.

I was eighteen when I sat in his car, poor, broken, alone and one hundred miles from home. I was eighteen when I said No, and I was eighteen when he opened the doors of his car and dropped me at a bus station, leaving with the words Call me when you change your mind, I can change your life.

I was eighteen when a Twitch viewer sent me money to cover my overdraft, my bus ticket and a hot meal. I was eighteen when I sat alone, sobbing, on the first AM bus out of San Francisco with an old Asian bus driver that looked like my father who told me I looked like his daughter. I was eighteen when he told me that life has a way of always turning out alright.

I was eighteen, hardened, learning. Hopeful.

When I was twenty I swiped on an Italian Artist in New York who looked nothing like the men in my life and everything like the men in the magazines. I was twenty when I sat on his couch and was melted by his smile. I was twenty when he asked to kiss me and I was twenty when he was gentle, kind, slow. I was twenty when I learned how tongues could pass through smiles and hands could happily, consensually fumble for jeans. I was twenty when I learned how eagerness could be matched and sensuality could be sprouted from adoration. I was twenty when I learned of desire, of heat, of the kind of chemistry that can trickle from two minds and kindle into fire between four legs.

I felt the muscles under his skin and discovered derivatives of passion, of need, that could be possible without fear, revulsion, obedience. I felt the ripples in his stomach echo into deeper ripples of me; pressed the embers of his body against my lips and drank from the freedom of fire from my own creation.

I was twenty when I discovered the traction in my fingers started to fight the slipperiness of my mother’s warnings.

I was twenty, on my back with a smile, in a city for lovers, with a man I’d never see again and a memory set to repeat.

I was twenty when I discovered that the best kind of slipperiness was found nested, resting inside of me.

On August 17th we say Happy Birthday, Papa 🎈

I was a sobbing, inconsolable mess. I texted my oldest brother.

Do you think Dad can hear me from anywhere?

Yes, I really do.

Thank you love you.

I found a Bhuddist temple in Vegas. A golden, red-draped oasis in the middle of a bright summer heat.

My girlfriend took me, her steps echoing behind me on the rough gravel.

It was a plot in someone’s backyard; the red banner still shone with a display of luck and well-wishes for the New Year in Vietnamese.

It was simple, calming, littered with incense sticks and persimmons holding dreams, wishes, despair; fruitfulness and rot. Desperation paralleled by profound hope.

I touched the incense packet sitting at Bhudda’s feet.

This is so cool. How do you do this? My girlfriend looked at me and smiled.

I don’t really know. I smiled back, remembering my father’s instructions from my first funeral, my first altar. You light it, think of a prayer, and bow in respect.

The white lighter gleamed with sunlight near the incense tray. I picked it up, hasty, rushing. My fingertips burned on the scorching metal.

My girlfriend smiled again, reaching for the lighter in her purse.

I had come to temple on Father’s Day: desolate, filled with regret and despair at the choices of my mid-twenties. Lost, forlorn, angry at unknown gods and vengeful towards my own faith.

I lit my incense stick, the embers flared orange-golden. If this was a telephone to my father, what would I possibly want to say?

In the drive over I thought of all the things I wished for. All the things I wanted, and kept wanting. In the drive over I remembered the due diligence my father had for my wishes. The seriousness of completion for the most mundane list of ten-year-old things. A Sanrio notebook, stationary, pens. A day off, a trip to Costco; Cháo Gà at the place in San Jose one-and-half hours away, equal computer time to my brothers, a Hershey’s white chocolate and Oreo bar. The newest demin jacket from Kimora Lee Simmons’ Baby Phat, a matching Eckō Red tee. A forehead kiss, a goodnight story. For Superbowl Sundays to not be done on my birthday weekend and my father’s special nước-mắm-five-minute Prego spaghetti with a side of his Costco steaks.

I thought about him in his last year of life: the rapidly multiplying grays, the prolonged sighs, the slower shuffle of his feet and the violent snores in his sleep. I think about his tired, cold, stiff hands and valleys of forehead wrinkles, crows’ feet and smile lines.

I thought about the bliss he extended, the happiness he proudly shone to simple child-like eyes. His exuding gratefulness to the world for my existence. I thought about the joints that creaked in his back and his uneven legs when he picked me up. The way he smiled so widely walking me down the stairs, the excitement in the way he asked me about my sleep, my dreams, my thoughts. The absence of complaint.

I am twenty-seven now and exhausted. Burnt out, checked out, sobbing from 10-, 12-, 15 hour days. The tiredness sinks into my own skin, threatening forehead wrinkles, crows’ feet and smile lines. It will be 9 years of this for me. I remember my father when he died; 53 years of multiplied exhaustion for him. A duitiful first born son in a family of 8. A fascinated teenage scholar using textbooks as shrapnel and debris helmets. An emaciated almost-highschool graduate, a refugee-turned-Hong-Kong-prisoner. A fresh immigrant in America, alone and starving and charming; burdened and determined. A newly minted husband in the projects, bruised, bleeding, sore, strawberry-farming hands.

A newly minted father with an expectant, extravagant, wanting housewife and mounting debt. A forty-year old girl dad obsessed with her mother’s whims and selfish whines.

I sat in the drive there, thinking about him now: fifteen-years free, painless, happy. Light.

I held the incense clapped against my fingers. I bowed in prayer. The anxiety lifted, the incense flashed a montage of my father’s mirthful, teasing face. What if the bow isn’t from respect? But a natural, wishful hope for an incense-stick-shaped microphone to the ethereal.

My mind cleared. The warmth of the sun cradled my back, my neck, my arms. The warmth of my tears cradled my cheek, my lips, my chin. The words were easy.

Hi Papa. Happy Father’s Day. I love you so so so much. I miss you today.

I just wanted to say thank you so much. Thank you for the boys. Thank you for your love. Thank you for my Mom. Thank you for always watching us. I wish I could take you to the Steakhouse in the woods, but I still miss your instant-noodle-tom-yum-lettuce-and-flank-steak.

I’m going to be okay this year, I promise. Your little girl will be okay today.

I love you always.

the father, the spirit, the holy ghost

I don’t want to forget about my Dad anymore. The dreams I have of him now are just a scent, a feeling. A lingering aura.

I used to dream of him in full physical form. His Ralph Lauren cologne, receding hairline and crow’s feet riddled smiles. I used to dream about running into his arms and the feeling of a Versace button up and sports coat wrapped around me.

Somebody asked me Why aren’t you over it yet?

My heart fades at the answer. Can you be over it?

I dated a boy once whose mother held the same sadness. The joy of being a father’s princess, and the desolation of having been a father’s princess.

She was in her fifties. A picture of her running into her father’s arms decorated the wall of her bedroom. He was brilliant, kind, so funny. A one-in-a-million man. She told me. A smile in her face and a broken heart in her eyes.

He had died forty years ago. His death propelled her into a millions-a-year career.

I wonder if people ask her Why aren’t you over it yet?

It seems like we create around us everything we desired to recreate the feeling of everything we once had.

If I close my eyes and cry enough my mind fills the room with the smell of his cologne and Marlboro-Colgate forehead kisses. My fingertips simulate the feeling of his designer silk shirts and Costco wifebeaters.

When pain comes, my father’s memory returns. My father’s arms reach within the sadness. In happiness there is often emptiness.

His death brought an angel to my corner.

People ask me if I believe in god. Some days there are just too many demons. Sometimes it is terrifying to be so loved.

I am stuffing my mind with new moments I feel like I don’t want to forget. The memories of my father don’t fight to be replaced. I can feel his crouched-down hug, his massive smile. The way he used to pat my head.

Life is meant for the living.

I can feel him kiss my hair. I can see his face as he walked me to my first Kindergarten class. His Heineken father’s belly, white wife beater, black-and-yellow Adidas track pants and slides. The gold and jade rings. Tan baseball cap. I remember the Camry keys in his hand. His wide smile. How badly I wanted to run back into his arms.

My hands gripping my purple Beauty-and-the-Beast backpack. Be strong. Have a lot of fun for me. You can’t cry.

I remember his hands on my arms. The forehead kisses. A daughter of Hao Van Vu can’t cry. I thought to myself. I sucked in my tears. Blew air into my cheeks to stop the sharpness in my eyes. He chuckled so proudly.

I puffed out my chest and walked into the procession.

I remember my father’s eyes. The sadness. The kindness. The deep browns.

I cry less for him every year. I know he smiles more for each lessened tear.

This is the journey of our past.


The house is still. A shell of our former home. The cat sits in your old office. She rolls over, rubbing her face on the carpet indentations of our old bed.

She meows from room to room. The echoes of emptiness meow back.

I know I can’t leave. I know there is immeasurable sadness left. There was melancholy that rotted our foundation. Love that bled, mixed, formed and shattered the drywall.

My brother asks why I want to spend more nights here.

It wasn’t always like this.

Witch doctors in Vietnam are superstitious about homes. They walk the grounds, float from room to room. Touch the walls, string crystals from window frames and dried herbs on door frames. They tell you about the residual energy and continued currents.

They would walk this home and tell you there was war here. Our fights would vibrate through their fingertips. The shock, then the stillness. I want to close my eyes in the hallway. Press them to notice what can only be felt with eyes closed and chests open.

The undercurrents of all two hundred nights stuffed with love. Hope. Desire. The thousands of good-mannered wishes whispered on the rooftop. All the dreams we laid to rest underneath a Vegas sky.

This home was ours. I was yours. You were mine.

It would be easier to hate you. To leave. To bury this carcass of a home and scrapped futures. It would be easier to forget. To pretend it was always terrible.

I can still hear our silly laughter chasing the stairs. The trails of clothing littering the laminate. I can still feel my heart jump at all of your little pop-out scares. The tightness of your arms around my skin. I ache for the annoying sound of you playing video games. My body still looks up searching for the tenderness of your lips against my skull, cheek, the tenderness of your lips tracing my tears, erasing my fears.

They are exploding out of my throat now. An overflowing fountain of bittersweetness. There is no bottling, no removing, no running. I am learning that emotions are not items to be thrown around in trash bags or locked into drawers.

They are living entities, entitled to their pounds of flesh and pain. Feeling is a gift. The harbinger of death is followed steadily by one of life. The Norse call this Ragnarök. I call this Fucking Awful.

I am looking to tarot. To religion. To superstition. To history, scripture, story.

We were child lovers harnessing fire to synthesize dynamite.

I sit on the staircase of this hallowed out home, bawling my eyes out in front of two maids and a cat. I am reciting every single inspirational, motivational, twenty-dollar Target slogan I’ve ever seen.

Courage is grace under pressure. Courage is grace under pressure. Courage is grace under pressure. Courage is grace under pressure.

Feeling is better than forgetting. We are still my favorite love story.

The fresh paint smell pollutes the air. I, too, want to shatter these walls. The sound of breaking glass and screeching Vietnamese of my childhood ring my ears. I see us in my childhood home, recreating all of my mother’s and father’s fights. Reenacting the steps of what I had once believed the greatest love I had ever known.

Again, the tears explode out of my chest. There is an aching that punctuates each heartbeat. Heavy reminders that there are parts of me left still living.

Breathe easy. The sobbing becomes choking. The tannins of love dry the air in my throat. The maids are mopping up the floor.

The cat sits at the top of the stairs, a white lamb purring amidst.

I will tell the Witch Doctor these memories are to savor, not to sage.

It seems, my love, the children had created fireworks, and the adults are fingering the debris.

I’ve been lying on the ground lately thinking about why I feel so down. I haven’t left the house in the past two years, why did the past five months affect me so harshly lately?

The recluse, the dreamer, the writer slash romance seeker. I am stifled, baffled, ruffled. The first year of my seclusion was spent making copious amounts of love and intimacy and passionate disagreements. My second year of my seclusion was attempting to figure out the mental and physical affects the first year had on me.

The third year is now. Specifically a month ago. I miss myself. I miss the tequila nights and mimosa mornings. I miss the white wine and caviar.

I miss traveling in tiny outfits. I miss not fussing with the fat on my body; I miss being in a body I was the most comfortable in. I miss being slightly vain and exceedingly proud.

I miss the taste of my own cooking, the feeling of my own satisfaction with disregard for another’s.

You dying made me reevaluate the value of my own living.

I want to be here, but not like this anymore. I hope that everyday this year will strike change. I hope that everyday this year I will stop living in the inbetween of who I am and what I feel.

I hope that I don’t fail myself again.

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 ♡