not even the dramatically beautiful-yet-so-despondently-tragic tears trailing down cheeks sobbing,
like snot and plugged sinuses i can’t breathe because my chest is shaking violently red faced and absolutely ghastly sobbing.
to those who reside as aliens.
i told my sister that i felt like i plateaued in my faith on the phone a few hours ago, which is a little weird even for me to say as a self proclaimed romantic nihilist, because for me to have faith would mean to accept that something and someone matters, and that’s a black hole of words i don’t have right now.
the truth is of course, yes, they do. someone does.
i have been an alien for a very long time.
residing as one for a couple years give or take. living and feeling, reluctantly accepting for… what feels like my whole life.
i joke about it and it sears itself into my soul so much that i forget anything else.
alien. don’t belong, don’t belong, don’t belong.
i guess i just assumed this was universally accepted so i… didn’t bother checking with God about it? or? you know?
dude i haven’t been to church without zoning out in a year, this is rough even on my ears.
but like, at some point in this freakishly hot night i’d decided to read through the bible app.
because totally, that’s what you do in 100 degree heat when you’ve been half-religiously avoiding the social distant services starting back up because you know, you know, you know, that you’ll just sit there and you may as well sit anywhere else.
you sit in your hot room with two fans running and then you decide to read a bit of the bible.
t-to pass the time.
how the heck does God not give up on my pathetic self, i don’t know.
but i turned to 1 peter and boom
to those who reside as aliens.
and then, in that second of reading and rereading in disbelief i think some wall of casual apathy and suppressed fears broke.
it was like he was speaking to me.
to those who reside as aliens.
God wrote a letter to an alien and invited them home. he got it. he crossed space and time and technological difficulties to let me know.
i still can’t stop crying.
i don’t plan on writing any enlightened christian gospel living posts anytime soon, and to be honest, i’m aware how often i toe the grey area of agnosticism.
but in this space and time, in this lonely messed up ugly weird strange insert words your parents would not want me to say, the fact that i am seen and loved and accepted in totality by God has captured my full attention and left me speechless. (well, speechless enough to write about it. what a hypocrite.) and maybe that is enough.
to those who reside as aliens.
i asked God for proof that existence mattered, and he didn’t just follow through, he whacked me personally and said that i did.
wipe your tears, they say, you will start to heal.
i know not everyone reading this looks to faith for the peace they seek, that there are many many places that offer what we all search for, and it’s not my place to insist on any specific way or attitude or time. that’s not what this is.
this is to those who reside as aliens.
i hope you find it, like how i accidentally stumbled on it at an ungodly hour of the day.
(that’s hilarious, the ungodly hour bit. it would seem that i met God at this time. amazing.)
i could be writing this from the janky 2007 windows vista black toshiba laptop that dominates the kitchen island and most of my life these past few months, but the nurse at urgent care dismissed me on the grounds that i wouldn’t do anything strenuous, so here i am at a horrible hour of the day on my tiny secondhand nearly deceased phone to announce that unfortunately, i am not, in fact, dead.
this is unfortunate for the obvious reason that i would’ve greatly enjoyed one big pity party for myself that people had to go to because, you know, i’d be dead. it’s much easier to convince people to do things for your memory than while you’re right in front of them. alas.
if this post seems strange, i’m writing it on a few days worth of pain meds and sleep and podcasts and quibi shows, all firmly ingested with the belief that i wouldn’t have to use my mind for the rest of however long this already freakishly long year may be, so please be patient as i grapple with the reality of being painfully self aware. a horrible thing to grapple with if you ask me. eating pineapple pizza would be easier and i do not say that lightly.
yeah man, i’m tired.
i was looking through my posts from this month last year in a fit of nostalgia and jealously, because who was that kid who somehow managed to escape and live two months of a normal predominantly happy life and what was this horrible writing they left behind in their wake to pursue happiness? horrible, disgraceful, immature at best. happy. they were happy. that’s partially what makes me tired.
i mean, i’m still happy, just. significantly less so now in the year-that-shall-not-be-mentioned because it has dealt more damage than a literal hurricane and in a few months, i will have survived both to be able to tell the tale, and the idea of surviving sounds great, right, but, it kinda just makes me despondent.
i’m tired of surviving. i can do it. i know i can. i just wish i didn’t have to, you know?
anyway, that’s a bit self-centered to say. my apologies. i was trying to make it have a point and it turned out as beautifully flat as everything i’ve ever tried to make.
but see, i’ve been thinking about the lone survivor mentality thing and it kinda doesn’t add up, and that’s why i say my point is flat. because my whole life, i’ve depended on other people to survive. a lot of them hurt me. a lot of them i hurt. a few didn’t need to lift a hand in my favor, but they seemed to push against heaven and earth to try. a bunch barely did the minimum effort possible. a couple still insist on keeping an eye or two on the state of my lethargic existence without even the thanks that i do remember to give. i don’t understand it, but i do appreciate it.
there’s a post somewhere on the scary place called the internet that says all creatures learn their most important skill in the first two hours of being alive. for most, it’s how to stand up and walk. for some, it’s how to eat. and for the human being, it’s how to call for help.
i was thinking, if that’s true, then we’re the only creatures that try to suppress our most important skill because of feelings of inferiority we impose on ourselves, and i think that’s terribly sad. even sadder than being self aware. the world is too unkind for the people in it to follow suit.
i wonder what that world would look like. in which we felt free to call for help. maybe i wouldn’t think of my funeral as the only way to ask for people to be kind to me. maybe i’d even actually know people. imagine that.
it’s kinda nice to imagine, if you don’t think about the implications.
you know what would be even nicer? not having to think at all.
that’s probably the pain meds talking.
i’ll give this strange blogging thing a stab another day. just wanted to pretend that i had any relevance for a couple minutes. gotta get it from somewhere, right?
but here, i’ll leave with a request (or three) to start a conversation. for the funnies. leave a reply if you think any of them are worth anything, and maybe come back and comment on another person’s thoughts while you’re at it too, yeah? yeah.
“Individuals with ADHD often become quickly immersed in one salient emotion and have problems shifting their focus to other aspects of a situation.”
“For many people with ADHD, the brain’s gating mechanism for regulating emotion does not distinguish between dangerous threats and more minor problems. These individuals are often thrown into panic mode by thoughts or perceptions that do not warrant such a reaction. As a result, the ADHD brain can’t deal more rationally and realistically with events that are stressful.” – some article i found from ADDitude
“nothing is wrong. everything feels wrong. that’s what’s wrong.” on mental disorders (simple explanation), our favorite weez
that doesn’t make this easier.
if anything, it could very well make this.
worse like groan a little and rock back and forth for an hour because it would’ve been nice to have known *before* all this happened. stare into the abyss and not imagine dragons waiting to take me away because i still have homework worse. scrolling through instagram and feeling overwhelmed worse. so much worse that it feels scary to address the worse because what if it gets worse
i’m trying the breathing exercises and they’re kinda helping, but they just make me feel dizzy and have a bit of a headache. and i already ate so it can’t be that. and i don’t have anyone that actually know know what it means to have a mind with a million tabs open and one sound coming from all of them in unsion
“oh! no! oh! no! oh! no!”
and what do i say to the tabs?
“you’re! not! real! you’re! exaggerated!”
and then what? lie because everything in the world is going
and me saying it doesn’t make it more or less true?
i hold no power as to the truthness level of a situation, and that scares me more than the actual situation. i’m not sure what to think about that, and i’m not sure if i *can* think, because then it’s like
realize that everything i’m processing and experiencing will always be received by hypersensitive, maxed up senses,
leading to questioning everything i hold dear and i speak up about being actually important or just important to me,
then leading into panicking as the things and people i love don’t get better and don’t get anything at all and the world and the governments and how itchy my left eye is,
then trying to shut my phone off before yet another cry of how the people who need to listen won’t listen and are just trying to maintain order and calm, and how can i blame them when i’m trying to do the exact same thing, but the difference between me and them is i’m actually trying to change for the better and they only want to surpress the cries,
oh the room is cold now, oh, there’s a bag of groceries where the table is, that’s not right, oh no, a million little things are inscrutably different than how they were yesterday and oh no that is not okay, not okay, not okay!
sometimes it ends in a meltdown and sometimes it ends in long periods of feeling nothing after feeling everything for so long
but everything seems to set me off today, like
all the lovely things friends write and put up and share
and all the mean things the outside does and the bills they pass and the doom they bring to make everything great again! no you’re not you just want you to be great again
and that someone brought me crackers and now i feel priveleged because nobody else asked for crackers
and then lonely because nobody else asked and i feel like i can’t go home and i don’t know where home is
and i know that i don’t know but it doesn’t make up for the fact that i don’t know
i want to save the world. and i also want to save myself. and i have to make peace that having both is okay. that i am okay.
that even with all the unokayness it will be okay, because we’re just humans and everything we see is filtered through the confines of our minds, and that’s why when we’re united it doesn’t feel as lonely as it tends to be, but *why* is so much, why is there so much why
perhaps… perhaps feeling, and caring is a superpower that… that i can’t control yet? and therefore… and therefore the opposite, to be normal, to be apathetic, is my weakness?
there’s a caste system in everything. the philippines is only one of many countries that employ one.
it starts with what we associate with success and fame and the “It” goal: being white. sometimes this can be replaced with being american on a good day, sometimes it’s just anyone with unbelievably fairer skin. either way, this ingrained goal, despite not actually being stated, is why the skin whitening industry is so successful and why most representation of filipinos is unbelievably lightskinned. or, in nicer terms, “fair.”
then it breaks down into being mestizo, which is a fancy colonizer way to say having mixed blood. if your genes are good and you’re “fair” then you have a pretty secure grip on the societal ladder. if you don’t, at least you have a “fair” parent. having mixed families is, for some reason, romanticised and fetishized, which isn’t cool, but somehow nobody talks about that? anyway.
the more melanin you have, the less you’re seen as equal to the “It” goal, or seen as equal, or even seen in general, and it’s this weird horrible phenomenon of internalizing colonial thinking that’s led filipinos to either:
favoring the system
favoring the exact opposite, which spurns anyone who isn’t pure filipino.
enter the anomaly that is having both biological parents mixed themselves, growing up in a different country, absorbing three cultures without really knowing where they come from, and finally, going back to the place it all started, and being unnaturally, atypically, ungodly, different.
i don’t say all of this to the old guy sitting on the plastic chair by the street though. his confused reaction at my sudden spout of words would just confirm my point, and despite knowing it solidly for about all my life i’m not ready to hear it from another person. so i don’t say any of that when he says
“are you chinese?”
do i LooK like i want to scream, but i realize that i probably do.
“ah, my dad’s filipino, my mom’s chinese,” i answer.
i’m lying. my biological parents have so many different elements in both their dna, chinese included, that just transferred onto me. genetics people, genetics.
but i can’t bring out a punnet square and clarify to this interesting wrinkled person who eagerly waved at my camera just a few minutes ago, not to someone that probably doesn’t even know what genes are, not to someone who doesn’t know, period. easier for him and me.
that last bit’s a lie too. this sucks.
it’s a cruel world, one in which my skin isn’t dark enough to be oppressed and not light enough to be fetishized, in which i’ll still be asked if i have an accent or where i come from or applauded for having perfect english, in which i am a surprise because i’m not like “the others” but that just makes me an other. is that really much of an improvement?
being a token diverse person in the eyes of those who haven’t yet come face to face with the reality that a person can be so complex in every single sense of the word isn’t the worst thing ever, but it… isn’t fun. and it makes connecting with what little of this culture and of being a person of color i can call “mine”, because none of it seems to be, really.
like i can’t infringe on the specific opportunities for one people group despite not having those for mine either, or go to community centers created for priority neighborhood kids despite growing up one.
i don’t have any happy conclusion, but i imagine hermoine and all those other kids must’ve felt the same struggles in their weird fantasy world, somehow, in some strange way, must’ve related to not belonging. i don’t know much about fantasy worlds, so don’t kill me.
all i do know is we all have a bit of that magic in all of us, especially in the mixed and the barely there and the very much there that it makes no sense to divide ourselves by arbitrary lines that get blurred every single time.
and i wish i could answer this guy when he asks
“where do you come from”
and i wish i didn’t have to answer this question again.
~hey guys it’s me, the biggest disappointment you know, jo~
if i had my mind collected to answer your casual conversation about the news of the world and the news of the country neither of us have an official citzenship to (yet) but both consider home,
if i’d known how far into your experiences you’d lean, how proud you are of how far you’ve come, who’ve you brought and who you came back for,
if i realized that a person can so easily be shaped by what they consider right,
perhaps i wouldn’t have stayed silent as you explained why you believed systemic racism doesn’t exist.
perhaps, knowing that your mind would not be swayed from your belief that the plight of the people with the same skin as you and i was nothing more than an opportunity presented as a struggle,
that surely, because you came through your experiences successful, proud, and happy, that is every immigrant’s story, that is every person of color’s life if they would only put their minds to it,
that this couldn’t be true because it didn’t happen to you,
that it was merely a shift of blame from personal failure to the system’s,
that all you needed to cure this horrible plague called racism was to merely keep your head up and make friends of your enemies,
i would’ve been more factual, more precise, less sympathetic (because you in all your kind words are surprisingly not),
but that wouldn’t have changed anything, would it?
no, realistically, none of our talk affects what we were talking about,
it affects me.
you speak with pride of your past, of your thoughts, of your opinion. you came from soldier’s guts and the will of your last name. when old dad died in the states, everyone took the papers he didn’t sign and wrote them for themselves and they simply did. it was the family way. to stick together and to grab at any chance whatsoever together.
you were my age when old dad died. you were my age when old mom and your sister had chosen to move for themselves since there was nobody to move for them. you were the first of us to live in the projects, the first to fish around in the dumpsters, the first to try, the first to survive in this country. you helped bring most of the family here. you know this, you say, you know struggle, you have friends, they’ve struggled, that is how life is.
(and you call me the pessimist.)
“assimilation” you say, raising a glass of water, “is something everyone has to do. otherwise, why bother coming to the country?”
this from the person who fears losing the family history, always comments on the new kids being born with english names, insists on learning our native tongue, always prepares a mix of foreign dishes with a side of rice because otherwise that is not a meal, this is coming from a beautiful, kind, unknowing hypocrite. you have made yourself presentable to be treated regularly (and boom, who defines what’s regular? you just admitted it’s not us), but the culture that flows in you is the culture they do not want, and so you say assimilation is good.
i refrain from mentioning residential schools and the similar mentalities even now as you comment, “oh, and the docs said i was a monkey, but that’s just one bad doc, that’s all it is.”
see, you had me til “all” and “just”.
i’m quiet, but not by desire. i need to hear this, i need to know how you think, and it is… it is like every other human who has ever thought. they are strong thoughts, brave thoughts, misguided and sad thoughts, adaptable, survivalist, idealistic, and human thoughts. i have similar ones, and all of them just echo one repeating line:
beating the system doesn’t mean the system doesn’t exist. beating the system doesn’t mean the system doesn’t exist. you’re not supposed to push through an unforgiving system, that system is supposed to help you, not hold you back—
you deny this. at this point, it’s rather ironic. no, it’s just how you make the most of this opportunity, no, it’s what you choose to make of it. and you are right, of course you are. but you’re wrong when you say that it’s just. it’s not just. and it’s not just. both definitions.
are you so content with pushing to exist in this space that you find the cries of people just like you doing the same thing on a larger scale than you did meaningless? have you accepted that your experience has got to be every other immigrant, everyone other person of color, every other human’s experience, and therefore your outlook on life will be everyone else’s too; to just reach for the grapes that are enticingly dangled above you? to jump and jump and jump even as every time you get closer they’re whisked out of reach? that nobody can check to see who’s holding the grapes and can’t stop jumping and jumping and jumping?
perhaps you grew up to survive a life of striving. you and the hordes of older folk who think just like you, proud in their success, reluctant to see the struggles of others without giving them the same advice you gave yourself.
but i grew up without the same pride of our story, our culture, our skin. because in pursuing the “It” you boast of, we lost what the significance of who we are, and no amount of your mourning for our generation will bring it back. that’s assimilation baby, when you win, you lose.
i grew up aware of the cultural gap among my people, i grew up aware of the cultural ignorance of my people, i grew up aware that i didn’t have a people. i grew up in similar housing, similar dumpsters, not so similar struggles. it’s easier to see what’s wrong when you’re not basking in the glow of your rightness.
it makes conversations like this more painful.
like how can i tell you that our success, the filipino growth, is largely thanks to the brave Black americans whose slurs, insults, and limitations we once shared, and to feel like you have an opinion on whether lives matter is to be ignorant? that even now we have this privilege known as the model minority that hurts everyone involved, us included? that you are proud of something that shouldn’t have been as hard as it was? that we shouldn’t– and we can’t– just push for a right to exist?
i can’t tell you that. that’s something that you need to learn in as much as you have said you know.
“i’m like a puppy” you said. “you can hate me and push me away all you want but i’ll make you love me and annoy you into caring for me, and that’s how we can end racism, by making our enemies love us.”
you grinned and launched into how you started providing for old mom at 17, and i merely looked at you.
that’s not how you treat fellow people, fellow humans, like pets. you treat them like people, worthy of care and attention and human decency by existing.
and that’s what your optimism fails to cover. people are not being treated like people, people are being treated like pawns in a game, and what we’re saying is the game isn’t fair.
for someone who insists on seeing the good in people, surely you should see the bad as well.
but i didn’t have words. perhaps i still don’t.
when i do though, i hope you give my words the same weight i have given yours, because your thoughts are important.
sometimes their best is getting out of bed and into the shower and then skipping the shower to sit on the roof and get drenched by the rain.
sometimes it’s plopping on the ancient stolen laptop slowly breaking down as they realize the world has cursed them from the get go and the one person there since the beginning tries to help but her words just don’t sink in, they’re like swords being handed over when a shield is what they wish they had.
and so, sometimes the best is simply to be.
and sometimes that’s okay.
because nobody asks for this. nobody asks to be passed over on a happy story, nobody asks for the war or the bullets or the yelling, nobody wants that, and somehow everyone gets it.
and sure, it won’t be like that forever, but that doesn’t change the fact it is like that now.
and it sucks.
it’s like being the hero of a dying game called life. where nobody makes it out alive.
so then the hero takes off their mask, and they’re just a little kid in the dark with too much free time on their hands.
and they have a good cry and consider eating pineapple pizza. but to not completely descend into madness they make ramen and feel numb.
and the numbness
and it’s beep. beep. beep. you are still alive. you are still breathing. welcome, brave soul.
and that’s. that’s the best. not the best overall or ever. but not nothing either.
because then you just. get back up. and you play a song. and you watch a movie. and you talk to people. and you don’t feel alone. even though you are. and you think about a future where you can actively ignore people as a choice and therapy isn’t a pain to schedule. it may never happen but it’s a nice illusion to cling on to for a while.
but then it’s not an illusion. you just aren’t there yet.
and that’s okay.
because you will be. somehow. sometime. maybe you’ll have a pizza. maybe you’ll wear a mask and tell yourself “i can do this” and maybe it will hurt and maybe you’ll be strong and maybe you’ll be a hero, even if for a moment.
walmart shopping after work, after the end of the day and everyone’s ready to grab their frozen pizzas and go home.
“uhhh.” you stare at your camera, and then you stare and the rows of mini backpacks that hang before you. your sister slings an arm around your neck and pats a sleek looking black half pint.
“see anything you like?” panic. how are you supposed to choose anything? the idea of getting something absolutely brand new is foreign, almost dirty. everything you’ve ever possessed with the exception of your precious camera has either been stolen from dumpsters or carefully picked from thrift store racks. there’s something thrilling about getting something for your very own, something terrifying.
“the marvel ones look cool,” you mumble, eyes a captain marvel one in the kids section. you’re still a kid, after all. “unless you wanna explain a flaming superhero on campus, i’d settle for something more discreet.” they rest their arm on your head simply because you’re short and you glower. “or not. whatever catches your eye.”
you pause. “do you mean that?” “always.”
the walmart is left with one bobbing brown leather backpack and a jojo siwa balloon punched in the face.