Yesterday, I imagined my friend saying the words that he had difficulty saying. How as he said them, they fluttered across the country over the phone and break into a burning clarity that she didn’t want to hear.
I remember how I said the same exact words once. And how saying them was forcing my body to do something out of its comfort zone. When the body only wants to be wrapped with a down blanket, lying on its side. Hoping for the next moment of relief.
I have learned that there’s no right. There’s no wrong. Whether something is said with compassion or anger, it is said. And I hope that the words were carefully chosen.
As I drove along 16th street, I spotted it. A bright, loud party going on in an alleyway, nestled between warehouses in Potrero Flats. I dodged around a taxi in the process of loading and swung into the opposite lane almost into incoming traffic.
I found a parking spot around the corner. Once parked, I hesitated. Loud music? Flashy lights? Dressed up people? High heels, shiny sport jackets, open bar, boring dull topics?
I wasn’t quite sure. I walked around the corner unable to get in touch with Chris…who somehow got inside. Uniformed unsmiling police officers stood guard at the main entrance and the back.
Finally, I got a call right as I was going to bounce the joint. “Sorry, I was in the bathroom!”
“Really?” I said. “The men’s bathroom has a line.”
“It’s all guys here,” he replied. It was…quite a sausage fest.
I walked to the fence and he convinced me that yes I did want Asian tacos and ice cream sandwiches. As he was buried within the food trucks and carts, a girl dressed up in a medium gray cloak and leggings walked by and started taking photos with her phone. Then she asked me, “What’s going on?”
“I think it’s a celebration for the launch of Oouya,” I said. “I am not sure if I really want to go.”
Her curiosity was infectious and Chris immediately offered to get us both in. At the door, Chris said that he already talked to the guys and nobody blinked an eye. I embarrassingly slid through the check-in as bracelet was slipped onto my skinny wrist.
We were in.
Tonight, I went to a dessert tasting. Quite appropriate for my love (any food with sugar!).
Yet after a few hours surrounded by wine tasting (and pairing), talk of Fifty Shades of Grey, shopping, makeup techniques, I wondered where I had fallen. Was this a sign of genders? Was this a sign of extroversion?
This time though, I didn’t force my hand into intense topics of conversation as I had done once with a group of strangers last month. No what does food really mean for everyone. No why does owning a house have so much significance in our society. No how does it really feel like to work in a restaurant like this.
I fidgeted in my seat, hoping nobody would notice. But then I realized, perhaps this is what it is that not all dessert conversation can be perfect.
Life is short.
I used to believe that trying new things is the point of life. After all, if we don’t keep trying, how will we know what we like or don’t like? How will we discover the undiscovered parts of ourselves?
Before, I never understood how people went to their regular restaurant for the same thing. How did people come into the same restaurant and look at Sally and ask, “I’ll get the usual.” Then Sally would say, “Great!” and she would wink, smile, and set the plate down the way people want it. Perhaps with the same extra sauce. Then a drink made with the same amount of ice. Just one, no more than that.
I rarely went to the same place more than twice a year (unless demanded by my peers). Every day, it was something new. Something different.
Yet, after disappointments and missed expectations, I have the usual. For restaurants, to start. I am afraid of trying the new hipster restaurants on Valencia because I would scan the menu in disappointment not being able to find a single item that I really want and end up with something that seemed ok. But then I’ll have a bite and know that I’ll dislike it. So then should I send it back unsure if it’s really for me?
So instead, I say…nah, let’s go the usual. Let’s have the rotisserie chicken in the way I like it. With yuca fries and vegetales saltados. I would eat it in the restaurant with my fingers and I would lick each finger one by one. That is my usual.
I know that I am in the minority. And that whatever I say, it will come off childish.
This is actually what I wanted to say.
People have told me:
You will get a buzz!
I like the way it makes me feel
You will loosen up (aka get off your high horse!)
I like the taste, so you should too!
In essence, it is the one thing that I inherently rebel against and have an inner struggle every day: be like everyone else to be happier.
Is it hard to be true to yourself?
In my entire life, the only time that I recalled a direct sexist comment (outside of media) was in Ireland, sitting in the back of a taxi. I was initially surprised as my fellow passengers reacted more assertively. Walking away, I was shocked and stunned. Then thinking about how I wanted to share the moment with people, I spent an hour contemplating how to phrase it. Then I simply described the situation pointing out how surprised I was by the sexism and racism. On twitter. In 140 characters.
Without identifying the cab driver. Because there wasn’t any point of calling him out.
In some way, I was intending to only draw attention to the point that sexism and racism existed in a foreign place. Whether it was a pure isolated incident or generalization, I essentially had these goals:
Was I right to be surprised that sexism and racism existed in Ireland?
Did anybody experience something similar in Ireland or abroad?
So whether Adria deserved the backlash or not, we know sexism exists. I don’t condone it. And bad behavior deserves to be stopped and called out. Yet never for a moment did I think to call the cab company, because I would see it as a bigger issue.
In my own way, the incident in Ireland has been a story I tell about why I am hesitant to move to Europe. And why Ireland (along with a multitude of reasons) was generally unappealing to me. I never experienced a sexist moment like that, especially since I was the target of it (in contrast to Adria’s moment).
The point is this: let’s treat each other with respect and then make decisions from there.
You see that she’s Asian. You see the quiet demeanor. The eyes following your gestures and your speech. You see her hands flutter to her face, almost protectively shielding herself from incoming dust. Then you see her feet fidget…but sometimes at pauses, it dances slightly on the floor. She wears scuffed street sneakers with low-rising white socks. She bites her lips from time to time, almost checking to make sure that part of herself is there.
You wonder if she is nice. She smiles and laughs at the right places. But then you make your presentation. You think that she might glaze back like all her colleagues. Their eyes rolling back in boredom, but they’re too polite to admit their disinterest. You think that she might do that and fall into a quietness.
But it’s then she snaps. Her fiery, feisty side comes to life. You can tell that people regard her with respect—her silence often broken with a sharp, smart observation. Then she falls back into silence. But this silence only means that the gears are working in her brain—coming with an attack? coming with a sharp jab?
She hates the word “nice”.
From 2000 to 2004, writing was the thing.
Everyone had some kind of diary. A livejournal. A xanga. Maybe a scribble.nu Then all the various forms. Deadjournal. etc. I joined all of them, because I wanted to express myself. I joined message boards, communities to meet “like-minded” people. In my lonely way, I wanted to find others who were lonely as I was…and used the Internet to express themselves in the way they could not in person.
It was a safe time. We could yell into the ether and these digital voices—us. We would empathize, share a story or two. A “me too”. A witty comment. It was our obligation when we read other blogs. Not because we had to, but because wanted to. My life was surrounded by it then, so appropriate for my own coming-of-age in entering the world.
But then it all started fading away. But I never gave it up. I went through my blogroll today to clean up the links. More than half of them didn’t work. Leading to empty domains, stolen by a foreign country and indundated with ads. The other half were links of blogs not updated for years. Only one them was active. She had become a blogger in her own right—sometimes submitting to the current blog culture of promoting products and attending blogger events. I used to love her posts about her life—her struggles with boyfriends and living so far away from her family.
I was the only one I knew that continually plugged away at my blog. Albeit not every day as I used to. But I still write with the same energy. Although now unlike my early twenties, I don’t publicize. I don’t have the links on my profiles—facebook or twitter. (Although it was on twitter for a very long time.) It’s a game that I play with myself.
I can’t help but write. A habit that is more than a decade old. Plugging, posting…writing in type late at night, by myself. A solitary activity. I love it too much to give it up.
Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house: Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic
The windows are now gone. Empty. Houses made of brick like those in the olden times where women cared for the fire and the men hunted for game.
The ghosts that remain are those who remember the past. Of the children that are birthed here. The sexism, the racism, the fear that spread across the land.
As the house emptied and became a standing relic of the past, the ghosts watched the world change. The fear that dissipated from shouts, screams, pitchforks to soft quiet psychological fear. The fear that some only express through art, op-ed articles and gossip columns.
The fear that used to freely express are in our bones now, engrained just like the former husks of the ghosts. But for us, they just stay within, bursting only when prodded in quiet public digital shaming and behind-the-doors acts of violence.
lemon + ginger + honey + hot water = makes everything better.
On the way back to the city, I was feeling nauseous. For the first time, the train movement made me…train sick. And all I wanted to do was…retch. But when I got home, I poured ginger power (no real ginger here) with hot water with some honey…then later some fresh lemon.
Amazingly with a few seconds, I felt better. The wave of nausea came back a few seconds later. Yet when I downed the entire mug, all is well. And here I am sitting in bed in an awkward position writing, which would cause nausea in its own right.