i don't know how to eat a mango.

i could google it. i could watch a hundred youtube videos.

i should know how to do this.  is it not the fruit of my people?

i don't really have a people.

feeling very 'other' lately.  like i'm special but in that bad way kind of special.  it's easier to cast my lot with american. i grew up drinking juice out of metallic pouches and eating cereal that tore up the roof of your mouth. i was born here. i only speak english. 

i had a job in belmont once. 6 of us squeezed into a tiny office nestled in a weird strip mall off of el camino real. 3 white men and 2 filipinos.  i was the whitest person there. my bosses grew up and spent more time in the phillippines than i had and the language would switch when they wanted to discuss things they didn't want me to know about.

i've lost my ability to grasp meaning from the few words i knew. as i grew, more and more words slipped from my brown, out my ears, needing to make room for more interesting things. whatever things teenage girls liked.

wild writing starts back up in september but in the mean time i've signed up for 27 days so i can do it on my own.  i've only managed to word vomit my feelings in a non-pretty way. i've only managed to be 1/2 way through michael arceneaux's memoir.  the part where he's currently broke in LA and how it mirrored a lot of my same experience of the sprawling city.  carless. broke. embarrassed about being carless and broke and how that keeps you lonely in a place that is already designed for peak loneliness.

we had a two day break in the heatwave but that's pretty much over.  my inherent asian anxiety wants to keep me living in fear of wasting every singly privilege i have.  the rest of me is trying to take a staycation.

therapy should be interesting.

 

 

i could hear the tubes filling with blood. my blood. i could hear it and it made my toes curl and my insides go all squidgy.  i was looking away. i always look away because i hate needles. i can't look.  i remember getting nauseous catching a glimpse of an iv in my hand pre-surgery.  

my blood pressure was high. again.  the nurse asked me about it and if it's something i talked to my NP about and I told her no, i had only come in once before last week and it was high then too.  it's doctor anxiety, i'm sure.  it's also brown person anxiety.  it's fat person anxiety.  it's 'i took the bus here and i've been feeling ick about the bus lately which goes hand in hand with brown person anxiety.'  i have privilege though. i know it.  i'm not black. i'm not indigenous.  i'm not the most marginalized of the marginalized. i filled out their questionnaires on depression and anxiety.  they gave them to me after i filled out my initial paperwork.  probably cautionary since i went into detail about how anxious i've been lately.  there aren't enough lines in your form for me to tell you why.  if i could boil it down to something that would fit into the small space you allotted i could say:  historical trauma. marginalization. trump.

i'm bracing myself for the lab reports. i cry on the bus to the coffee shop on the way home in between bites of a protein bar that tastes like sadness and self loathing. i can't eat them anymore. especially on public transportation. i was always scarfing down sugar free protein bars to and from some sort of workout class because i was always scared of passing out, like a part of me knew that i was existing on barely enough food to keep me going.  i was a vegetarian with a gigantic fear of carbs at the time so i was always carrying around quest bars, the lowest of the low carb protein bar options.  

i was grateful for the empty corner table at kainos, my favorite coffee shop.  i was grateful austin was working because i always get hugs from him no matter how busy the shop is. i drank my coffee. i ate my biscuit. i read my book and tried not to think too much about it all.  i need to parse it out. i need to let it all slowly make its way into my brain so i can digest all these conflicting emotions.  this need and want for my body to be different than it is.  this need and want to not change how i've been making decisions about exercise and food because this way has felt balanced.  watching my belly expand and grow and feeling conflicted because i do not love this body but i do not wish to change it because i've done that before and it doesn't work. 

how do you not feel like a failure when society says your body is shameful?  and if you don't work to change your body your behavior is shameful? 

i'm supposed to be writing poems about this kind of shit, i'm sure.

 

when i was a kid i'd often day dream about my funeral.

out of all the adult milestones it was easier imagining dying than getting married.  that and imagining my life as a waitress in a city a la "it's a living" because that's what you did when you moved to a city.

i couldn't wait to be a waitress and i couldn't wait to die.

it's still pretty accurate.  lenny kravitz' 'fields of joy' is still the song i imagine when my body is carried into a churchy type place. when i was younger dead bodies were carried in coffins and i thought that was my only choice but now that i know being turned to dust is an option, i imagine a viewing, a wake before being cremated. i can already hear my playlist. star witness by neko case on repeat.

things i will be remembered for:

- food on her shirt

-tenuous relationship with social media

-very nice. maybe too nice?  

-she liked dogs. like, a lot

-lots of crying

i look down at my lunch, a bowl of instant ramen extra souped up with shitakes and frozen corn and a medium boiled egg. at the end of the day no one will remember that i didn't eat enough green vegetables or consumed gallons of diet soda or preferred americanized mexican food.

 

4 seasons in one week

i'm going to remember this when i'm knee deep in my own S.A.D. this winter.  

this feeling of glorious relief at the grey that is this morning.  the cool breeze coming in from the open bedroom window.  the grateful heart that is so glad that it is not going to reach 98 degrees today because i cannot stomach another day spent in the baby pool wishing it was an olympic sized swimming pool or at least something i can immerse my entire body in.

a lot of the thoughts i've been having lately are not safe for public consumption.  i'm on a self imposed social media ban this weekend. i deleted facebook and instagram from my phone last night before going to bed. i won't beat myself up for checking anything on my laptop.  extremes have not benefitted me before so why set up another challenge i am sure to fail?  i'm rarely at this thing anyways now that i no longer have to frantically check my work email for certain catastrophes.

i went to bed so sure i'd work out this morning.  i even woke up before my 6:15AM alarm.  i cancelled my core circuit though. and here i am, still awake, still with the opportunity to make it to class on time and... i can't.  there is this severe mental block on going to the gym.  my body is craving movement but the idea of going and lifting things, of hoisting my heavy body up and down and around whatever is too much for me.  

i saw my weight. i logged onto the patient portal my new doctor sent to me and clicked on the tab that said vitals because i wanted to know what my pulse and blood pressure were.

this was a mistake.

while i'm not drowning in the typical "let's make a plan to diet forever and get a revenge body to get revenge on no one." the # weighs on me.  i have no desire to change my current way of eating and moving but each meal feels so weighted down with "choice" and "bad decisions" like all I am is a mass of bad decisions and cancelled workouts. all i am is a bucket of fried chicken and loathing with no will to change any of it because i know the other direction doesn't work, and who would i be doing it for? me or everyone else? because i'm a really good patient and i do like to impress. all the gold stars for me please while i do all the right things for everyone else but myself.

my first week without the pressures of work and i've given myself the herculean task of trying to sleep in and read a book guilt free.  or play a mindless game on my phone without the voice in my head telling me i'm going to waste this entire time off and have nothing to show for it. i always need to have something to show, some sort of proof of life.  i did a thing. here it is. i wasn't just sitting here shooting colored balls into an iphone game sky to amass points that don't amass to anything tangible.

it's been a weird week.

halfway through gloria lucas' talk on colonialism, historical trauma and eating disorders my mind drifted off.

'you're only making things harder for yourself.  you can choose not to think about this, you know?  you can just live your privileged life like nothing ever happened. none of this happened to you directly.  the past is way back there, barely even touching you.  historical amnesia can help you move forward, just let it help you.'

it's the voice of what i imagine my friends would think. what my family would think. what my husband would think.  because they love me. because they want me to be happy.

forgetting or not acknowledging has helped me push through and succeed in a lot of ways. i'm here. i'm alive. i've managed to build a life.

having the time and the bandwidth to step out of normal everyday life to reflect is one of the hardest things i've ever done. staring down a life of all the choices i've made based on fear and the need to assimilate. this need to be someone else because if can just fake it until i make it maybe one day i'll wake up a thin white woman who has it all.  i think about all the movies i grew up watching, all the tv shows, all the romance novels, they were the ones who won.

but things are changing right?  it's the future now, right?  short fat women of color are stepping up to take their turn in the spotlight, right?  and once that happens, our lives will get easier, strangers will stop talking to us about their concern for our health all stores will make clothes in our sizes and having a 'beach body' and foods won't be marketed as 'clean'...right?  

right?

permission

the sun this morning has the same beautiful light lilt as kishi bashi's violin.  his cover of 'this must be the place' is on repeat.  it is full of familiar happiness. it pulls me out of bed. it drives the dogs from the covers and they stretch before running down the stairs to be fed.

the dogs inhale their breakfast and instantly fall back asleep and i watch them snooze under the dining room table jealous.  i've got conference calls, systems that continue failing causing a lot of work that is all hurry up and wait. 

i used to be so scared of too much free time.  this is the burden of a catholic upbringing. idle hands and all. you can't trust yourself because you are inherently bad.  you must be cleansed by godly fire. you must suffer and toil and riches will await you in heaven.

i don't want to wait. i'll stay here and burn I guess. i choose this life, this time, while i can remember it all. i will put real sugar in my oatmeal. i'll have all the toppings. i'll nap after breakfast.  i'll wear 'unflattering' clothes. i'll say please and thank you but I'm not going to ask permission anymore to let myself off the hook, to order two desserts, to wear short shorts i know i'll be picking out of my butt crack when i walk the dogs later on this hot summer day.

all this freedom is still tempered with the work i need to do to finish out the month.  i can do this. it's almost over.  what happens when you have the privilege and freedom to pursue the things that matter?  

i guess i'm about to find out.

golden

i've been obsessed with yellow lately

this sunny yellow, not pale and pastel, not muddy and mustard but the color of meyer lemons

the color of egg yolks

the color of yellow birthday cake, my favorite kind, with the chocolate frosting and the rainbow sprinkles 

the color of sunflower petals

i want to wear this color all the time.  it feels holy.  sacred.  i want to carry it with me through the city and say, 'look at me. look at all this goodness. don't i look like the sun? my body is grand and round and bursting with heat.'

this can only mean one thing.

i am healing.

new moon in cancer

it's a new moon in cancer tonight.

i want to believe in magic

in the moon

in my inherent connection to something larger than me

something other worldly

something bordering religion

but not religion

i want something with less suffering for redemption

and more offering and accpeting

and maybe here's a little dance and some piece of nature

or a tiny token

     the aluminum rings from a 25 cent vending machine

     a bracelet made from embroidery floss

     a $2 bill i found pressed inside a library book

that anything can be sacred and our rituals don't have to be so exclusive

i may not be at the point where i bathe my crystals in the light of a new moon

mine are mostly tumbled smooth worry stones from an etsy seller in arizona

i scream imposter syndrome

but i want to believe

so that should be enough.

saturday june 30, 2018

early morning reading and falling asleep again and then waking up because the dogs with their empty bellies are shaking and whining.  my own belly reminding me to drink water and don't even think about coffee until after food unless you want to ruin yourself for the day. 

a carton of buttermilk becomes a stack of pancakes.  i didn't really know what buttermilk was until i was an adult. we grew up with skim milk, the only kind i could ever stomach as a kid. it needed to be grey and almost translucent. buttermilk itself is disgusting.  in cakes and biscuits it is amazing.

i binge listen to old episodes of 'she's all fat'.  people had been mentioning this one for awhile and i've finally gotten around to it and now i can't stop listening. i try to fill the dishwasher in a way that makes sense but everything is too unruly.  i eat a pancake. i let it settle and then let myself have coffee. i make potatoes because we have a dying sack of them on the table.

nothing is sadder than aging vegetables. wrinkly. limp. shrinking. like all things. i will become an elder vegetable someday.  

my body will shrink, my skin and bones will become brittle and the juiciness of whatever youth i have left will leave me.

i think about asia and her failed butterflies. i feel sad and confused that a reality television show contestant could make me want to write her a poem. there is so little kindness these days so hers made me cry.

all this business of building walls. all this process of breaking them down. there's a robert frost poem in here somewhere isn't there?

i sit at the dining room table and i cheat myself, my saturday, by looking at my work email.

i shut the laptop quickly and move on to something else. there's so much more around me that deserve my time.  this bowl of old halloween candy. my little sweet bean who would love nothing more than for me to feed him green beans from my bowl. the husband still asleep in bed.

i read tony hoagland poems. i play the piano. i open the refrigerator several times thinking something new will appear. i contemplate going to the movies simply because i like the snacks. i reassure my dog that the mailman isn't satan for the hundreth time, rubbing behind the ears the way he likes as he hides under my chair. 

 

 

poems like this are everywhere

the girl riding the bus bundled up in layers on a summer day, large muffin top like headphones covering her ears as she swipes up and down, left and right, on her phone.

i thinks she's playing a game.  i'm not sure. i know there is a dating app that involves swiping maybe she's finding love. maybe she's swiping left. i think that's the bad swipe. is it?

in the last row, sitting in the back, a tall black man in hospital scrubs naps, his legs taking up the 2 seats next to him, i worry about his head, lolled to the side, hitting the bus wall with each ka-chunk down fremont street.  it's early so i'm not sure if he's on his way home or to work. for his sake i hope it's home.

i wished i was going home instead of to therapy. these days where you wonder why you're going. i have nothing to talk about. i'm fine. life is fine. my people are fine. we're all surviving and that's enough. my parents don't know. they're on the don't ask don't tell plan that includes just enough data to get through the month. our phone conversations are 5-10 minutes tops.

my mom uses facetime so she can see me and recognize that i'm fine because all my features are in tact. i'm still here and i'm still me. the dogs bark in the background and she says hello to charlie and bean and sends here regards to jeff who is working in the other room. 

i wonder if she sees me  and if she can identify which features of mine are her own. i can see it when i wash my face in the morning. i'm looking more and more like her every year.  it's not a bad thing. i want to increase her plan. i want to let her in.  i'm not sure if she's ready or even if she wants in.  it's enough for her to facetime.

five minutes. proof of life.

i'm here. i'm still me. we're all still fine.

post gym

my body is doing its thing.  this breaking down to build itself up. at least that's what the specialists say and i believe it to be true. i lifted heavy things, mostly the weight of my own mass, up and down and over, wherever i was instructed to go. i clenched all the things. i picked up 40lbs worth of dumb bells and walked around like a woman with too many groceries.

in their very essence, fitness classes are very odd but comforting and familiar.  i don't have to think twice. i just do what i'm told and at the end of 45 minutes i get to lay on the ground, my being puddling on the floor unable to move although my ride to class is already gathering her things to leave.

for the rest of the day i'm lead legged and creaky and slow. long gone are the youthful bursts of energy that came from a morning workout. this new body wants to be horizontal, this new brain can't adjust from gym to work, but i have to, i have to. i take on new work knowing that it's temporary and fleeting.  all of it is really, but i nod my head and say yes and i do the thing and i lift the heavy objects and i try to remember to eat protein and i make myself shower because...

because this is life most days. 

which is perfectly fine.

i do not long for the unknown to come find me and tempt me with excitement that's only meant to ruin me.

i just want what i want.

a quiet place to rest. the soft body of a dog curled up against my thigh. someone who loves the me that limps around the house after the gym and complains about work.

we're always trying to come to a decision.

it's taken me 40 years to realize i need to sit with it for awhile. i can't tell you right away if i think this tastes delicious or if i like this song. i need to listen to it several times. i resist the need for immediacy.  i can't tell you if i want to move to berlin. or if i'm going to take self defense classes. i did buy pepper spray after the election after spending most of my ripe and juicy years walking the city late at night without any want for a weapon.  i don't know if i'll make it to yoga class tomorrow. i  can't tell you what i want to do for my birthday next month. we're always trying to come to a decision. yes, that year we picked lavender and went to the beach at sauvie island was nice but july is too far away from me to think about, just like how sometimes the next breath feels so far away.

welcome to the new normal

people don't want to talk about it unless there is resolution.  everyone wants closure. there was criticism about roxanne gay's memoir because everyone wants a conclusion. but there is no real end. she is alive and life is hard and no one owes you a happy ending.

people don't want to talk about it but portland is very white. after living in san francisco for 13 years i think about how i can be waiting for a bus here and if i don't open my mouth and speak perfect english something bad can happen to me. jeff wants to get me a jean jacket with a giant patch on the back that says "I WAS BORN IN NEW JERSEY."

people don't want to talk about it, how my dad was one of many filipinos who enlisted in the us navy so he could come to the states. america. it's where it's at. it's where good things happen. i wonder if my parents would have changed their minds if back then was right now. they've handed down their hypervigilance because it's what keeps us safe and while they've become easier people in their old age, going on crusies and making pasta salads for family bbq's i can't stop thinking about the stabbings that happened last year not too far from my house. 

"free speech!"  he yelled as he harassed two brown girls on the train. "this is america!"  as he stabbed three people in the neck. this is america.

monday

let go of making good things, she tells me.  let it be whatever it happens to be in the moment.  i make breakfast and carefully arrange the berries in my bowl before adding the yogurt and chia seeds, drizzling the honey like so, like the world is watching, an audience waiting in anticipation.

perfection and desire.

it's officially summer and i can't tell if it's the same neighbor who is weed whacking everyday, the loud whirr and burr of their machines comes into our house, makes our dogs bark, even though all the windows are closed.  when i take the dogs around the block, i look for the meticulously cultivated lawn to seek out the culprit.  

i don't know where the line is. season 2 of queer eye is out and i think about the before and after. the messiness of the everyday life without netlfix money and gay men and the cleaned up after with painted walls and the bright sunny newness of everything. i don't want to be john or whomever, with the khaki cargo shorts and the same 4 tee shirts but there is something comforting about the familiar.  at what point does it become detrimental for my well being?  

i cut out the necks of most of my shirts this past month because crewnecks are the new turtlenecks, stifling, suffocating and i tug on them to make room to breathe. now i am forever looking like i'm going to an 80s dance class, all showy shoulders and such. i am ok with this but i wonder what the fab 5 would replace this look with. a flowy blouse? a wrap top that shows cleavage? 

it's monday and i can't get my head in the game. my instagrammable breakfast consumed, my pyjamas still on and the gardening neighbor whacking weeds loudly. if it's not good, what is this moment?  monday is a petulant child not wanting to do the monday thing and get in line. it's realizing that berries and yogurt are just a prelude to a second breakfast which may happen in an hour.  it's the thought that we've evolved as a species to coffee, work, computer, computer, memes and bad news and i'm only okay with two of those things. 

 garfield minus garfield = i am jon, like all the freaking time.

garfield minus garfield = i am jon, like all the freaking time.

this is how i love you

my body is this nebulous thing. i consciously avoid going too deeply. its mysterious rolling hills and valleys and dark places scare me.  knowing what lies beneath this skin means knowing everything. 

it’s easier to move through this world a bag of spaghetti and bones. inconsequential and  tangible and easy to swallow. 

not this dark sticky confusing mass of secrets

what if I look closely and confirm 

there is nothing special here. you are not worth knowing.

i can’t look at my round calves and proclaim their greatness.  I can’t present to you my belly, separated into two hemispheres, my belly button living in the deep fold of my equator, and tell you that this is love. 

the most I can spare is two long minutes in front of the bathroom mirror upon first waking up.  my hair sticks straight up and out of the messy bun I slept in, reaching for the sky. this is ok.

my face with fresh lines telling me I slept hard last night. this is ok.

I wipe the crust from my eyes and adjust my glasses and look again. 

this is what I look like. this is what I look like.

this is how I love you. this is how I love you.

again and again. it has to start small. everything else may or may not come along for the ride but today this is enough and I wash my face with cold water and my dog finds me and licks my calves telling me he is ready to start the day.    

what you own

i hide people more than i'd like to admit these days.  i've hidden everyone until my feed is all ads for budgeting apps and those weird vitamins that look like golden capsules filled with perfectly round spheres. reminders to wish people happy birthday and donate to their charity of choice instead of sending presents.

i don't know many people who send presents anymore really.  the "HBD!" wish that shows up is the tiniest amount of gold people can spare for you. and it's fine and it's nice and they thought of you enough to say something so that counts for something.  at the very least one point. one point to add to the good deed point list.

i've hidden everyone because i don't love you because you are on top of today's political machinations. i love you because of that one time i lost my wallet and you stayed with me to call all my credit card companies because i couldn't stop being mad and crying about it. 

i don't love you because your life is beautiful pictures of beautiful places you've been or your beautiful children being their beautiful selves.  i love you because of that night we sat in my dorm room singing love songs. perfectly sober and overwhelmingly sad over different people who would never love us. no shame in my tracy chapman game. we had that shit on repeat. 

 i'm completely aware of the need to play show and tell and the benefits of being able to let distant family members know we're ok without having to call them, i also feel completely isolated by all of the noise.  this is how we talk to each other now.  

i shouldn't complain. i'm horrible on the phone.

i remember getting in trouble for always hogging the line as a teenager, coveting that connection. 

now i  look at my phone with disdain when it vibrates and a phone number appears. i grumble and let it go to voicemail.

i'm busy. i can't be bothered. 

i'm sitting looking at my phone. i'm doing nothing and i can totally be bothered.

i am part of this communication breakdown.   

 

tiny treasures

i want to be lost in the algorithim of posts. leave little traces of myself that people may or may not see. a poem i liked.  a statement noting my distaste for raw onions in salads but some how they end up being ok in salsa. an admittance of a disorder. i used to only let myself have 8 blueberries and 12 pistachios a day as a snack. these are things i want to leave behind. these are the things i want you to know but only if the gods of the internet decide that you should see them. are you worthy enough to know that i don't know how to make friends IRL now that i don't really like alcohol? or bars? or most people?  does this intangible  network want you to know that i only really like it for a day or two when jeff is gone and then i miss him so much because when he's not here  i realize what parts of me are empty and hollow?

i want to give you my secrets. i want to bury them in shallow little graves that only some of you discover.  like the small random toy animals jeff is unearthing in our backyard when he gardens.  he brings these lost treasures inside and washes them in the sink and puts them on the window sill. the pink swan with the broken wing. the zebra with all its legs but refuses to stand up.  the soldier's horse that used to be white, now pitted and brown from dirt, weathered by nature. 

proof of life

i had no idea the dog was in the room with me until i saw him run out of the corner of my eye, scurry out the door, like catching an apparition right before it disappears, a tiny little ghost. 

i'm really good at doing the same thing i sneak in and out of places. i like to leave before anyone notices so i don't have to say goodbye or have a light chit chat about how nice it was to do or see x,y,z. there is some great freedom in my ability to ninja in and out of things. no one remembers if i was at josh's party.  i'm not in any photos. maybe one. i have a drink in my hand. that's the one i nurse until it gets warm and gross and i'll leave it on a table with a bevy of other abandon glasses. that's all they'll have to go by, my one discarded glass, the only evidence i've left behind.

existing with people in a room is the base minimum i can tolerate most days. to add on top of that a personality, a show, whether true or not, is a lot to ask of me.  the moment i start to feel trapped it's time to irish goodbye it. for a filipino my irish goodbye's are pretty good. it's taken years of practice. the first time i attempted to slip away from a party unnoticed i got caught and my friends renamed it the asian goodbye: try to leave, get caught and then get handed a shot of something, a penance for your offense.

what are you doing this weekend?

i never have anything planned. no, no plans, i say.  staying in, chilling out at home with the dogs and the husband, no big whoop, nothing to do, no places to go, no family to see, no movies to go to, no shopping trips, no friend dinners. we cocoon ourselves  into our home during the winter which makes sense and everyone nods their heads, yes, yes, that sounds so nice, cozy time are the best times.  but it's officially summer and somehow that answer is no longer appropriate but i give it anyway and then i feel bad. awkward. weird. i don't know how to have normal conversations.

my family is so far away. my friends are so far away. i know some ladies at my gym but they have car loads of kids and the practices that come with them. soccer. softball. kickball (is kickball a sport?) i have two little dogs who are perfectly content to burrow under the covers with me and binge watch bad television and a husband who can spend hours organizing and re-organizing the basement. i don't have plans and my life can feel so small and i wonder if i'm keeping it small on purpose.  i don't know why since i know that safety is an illusion but the need to go and jump out of a plane is something i lost a long time ago. 

i don't have any plans this weekend.  i know the weather is supposed to be gorgeous.