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.
there’s so many plot holes. i don’t have any of the characters fully fleshed out, the ending is somewhat anticlimatic, it’s messy and it’s me and it may never see the light of day.
and i think that’s like, that’s something that tends to run through every artist’s mind, you know? like instagram ruins our pictures, we miss a few dozen layers on a project, we hear a wobble in a cover of a song, and we sigh because it’s not good, it’s not right, it’s not perfect and it’s just pathetic and sad and us, which somehow makes it worse.
isn’t that sad? to be disappointed in the thing that makes us us?
back to the outline. i don’t even know how much of it i’m actually gonna follow, you know? and like, i was battling a pesky mosquito that was attacking my feet while trying to decide the future of an imaginary person in an imaginary, broken world, and–
that’s not good. but it’s not bad either.
creation, as a concept and as a reality, as a process and a finished work, has always been messy. i think the only person who ever properly nailed a piece of art on the first try was God and like, look what happened to that. we just… messed it up. free will and what not.
and so, we’re left with this yearning for beauty and for substance, for validation and for acceptance, we put pen to paper and brush to paint and fingers to frets and we try and try and try and it’s just a little bit off, and somehow i suppose we feel a pang of disappointment that just pushes us to do better.
what if… the slightly off… is… enough…?
i don’t know what i was trying to say after that,
but it was gonna tie in to me looking over what little of a story i have and being like “hey, that’s actually kinda interesting.”
but catch me being coherent, right? ha. no.
can anything be truly perfect? no. people are mean. life is hard. the world is messy. there’s a literal virus spreading around. how can we demand perfection from ourselves when the whole of humanity has been trying and failing for like, at least a thousand years. maybe two thousand.
but yet we still stare at the moon through an atmosphere with a hole in one of its layers, and it’s like “oh, what a pretty moon” even if it’s the same one that’s been around since 2001. and we eat ice cream from walmart and still call it delicious, and who knows how much artificial food coloring is in that? and we look at a kid’s messy wax crayon drawing and we go “masterpiece! this is going on the fridge for at least a week!”
so i’m just thinking, perfection is not the source or the equivalent of good.
even broken humans need grace, right?
but that kinda makes it easier, to create art that is flawed and songs are maybe a little offkey. stories that maybe have problems but also bring a whole lot of comfort.
and i just think that’s so cool
that i can find someone’s hastily written work apologizing profusely for how messy and unedited it is and i’ll read it and i’ll be laughing and crying and saying “HEY COME BACK! YOU DID GOOD WITH THIS I LOVE IT!” and then it’s not just a messy work, it’s a messy, good work, and that makes all the difference.
i wonder if that’s a thing God did, before it all went south. to instill a sense of Good that isn’t swayed by brokenness? yes? no?
so, anyway. i finished my outline. and i have loads of expired chocolate and a computer that is dying every second it’s being used, in a world that cries for the thing that i’m now choosing to accept.
i’ve done what i think is my brightest idea, and that was to unplug the janky laptop and move to my room, with the aqua fan that isn’t as powerful as it was a year ago, with the horrible pink colors and the splash of blue i added as a minor act of rebellion. personally, it makes the space more lively. the window’s doors are open, and rain is softly hitting the leaves and hopefully taking away pieces of the poor bird skeleton that rests on the ivy. i have no clue what it’s doing there and i’d rather not know.
i’m playing the stargirl soundtrack, and i’m alone in my room, and i think,
“i could live forever.”
i haven’t decided yet what i’ll do after this odd little ramble is over. perhaps i’ll watch a movie. or a tv show on the list i promised myself i’d finish in the summer. or maybe i could *actually* do the s.t.e.m homework i’m supposed to do so i don’t have to repeat a grade in the fall. or maybe i could conquer the world. or dance in the rain. the possibilities are endless.
or, i could trash cats (2019). because, honestly, everything started going downhill when that accursed trailer came out, no?
there is a strange little gap between want vs need that insists on being as difficult to traverse as possible. do i need to speed through a couple of units that i’m already late for? yes. do i want to record songs i wrote last year on the ukulele in the bathroom (that’s where the great acoustics are)? yes. am i gonna forget the standoff and hop between tumblr and pinterest for the rest of the day? you know what, probably.
indecision will be the hardest choice i ever have to make.
i saw this guy sit outside his house, connect a guitar to some old speaker, and play a soft tune to echo through the street in the middle of tuesday heat, and i wanted to go and listen, because music. and because once a few months ago i was playing ukulele and he came up with the guitar and asked me if i thought it was a good guitar. and then i played it and i said it was great. and then he told me he made it himself. that’s when i felt really bad i avoided people as much as i did. because people.
but that was a few months ago, and here we were, and i stood in the middle of the living room, and thought that i could alter the course of my fate by going downstairs, walking to his place, sitting down, and playing along with him. or i could just crawl up on a kitchen table and look up the legend of korra until i passed out, but that didn’t seem fate-altering. somehow, either step i took would be a path toward something.
so i didn’t move. because fear.
i guess i won’t know what the rest of that day would’ve looked like if i followed the music. did i want the music? i’m not sure. did i need it?
i’m not sure.
and so, i didn’t do anything. how odd.
but… i want to do more. and be more. even if it’s just a little bit. i think, in a way, so does everyone who walks the earth and watches the news and exists on this weird little planet. more. to want more. perhaps that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it is a human thing, who knows?
but even if i don’t become more, does that limit me from doing more?
it’s funny how i say this right after waking up from an accidental nap. my thoughts are all jumbled. oh well. nothing pizza can’t cure.
i woke up around lunch time. the fact that i fell asleep around 5 am should evoke sympathy.
ogrhulkjarehngiu what do i put next
oh, i got to wear my favorite shirt today. it’s grey and it’s supposed to be xl and i stole it from my uncle’s clean laundry stash and it’s my favorite and has cool words and i like how it feels and looks and don’t tell my uncle because he won’t stop teasing me for being a midget and i am *not* a midget, i’m just really good at picking out everyone’s best items and then taking them
“there’s only the Vibe” a friend once typed in our group chat after i sent in some workings for an oc that will never see the light of day. my character is both a stereotype and breaks all of them, and i was thinking her ambiguousness would be fun to portray, the way that pinning “background character of your favorite show” to your shirt (the grey one, with green accents) automatically makes you very cool. maybe i’ll talk about my oc sometime. maybe i won’t. ambiguousness, you know?
and that’s that on doing everything and nothing all at once.
i don’t know. that’s what i do know.
i don’t know why my mind is firing off in the distance. i don’t know why i enjoy walking around singing ben platt songs at three am to an empty house, i don’t know why marvel makes disappointing filipino superheroes, and i don’t know why rice noodles and spaghetti don’t work well together. maybe because spaghetti is more wheatier. who knows.
and then i think about the concept of borrowing. how everything that makes me me was taken from someone or someplace i don’t remember, long ago.
i live on borrowed land, i’ve grown up on borrowed culture, i dress in thrift store clothes and things saved from ending up in the trash, i wear bracelets passed from person to person, the shoes i wear were carefully stored as its previous owner moved on to better things (better feet? no) and i write these words knowing that its abstract wildness didn’t stem from me, and i wonder, what can i truly call my own that i came into?
nothing. perhaps that’s the beauty of it.
it’s not like people seem to keen on saving their little mannerisms, their stories, their things. it all goes to the trash. and that seems very sad. little objects and tools and knicknacks are little and tiny and should be saved at all costs. why just chuck them away?
there’s a reason i grew up interested in dumpsters. there’s others. i’ve told a few people why. idk, i like the idea of being the catchall for everything unwanted. it’s cool.
like, you know, here? in the islands? trash is like… treasure. depending on where you are and what time is it and can the aguirres’ tattletale lola watch you lug one of the hotel’s discarded speakers away, or is she busy chasing the newest dogs off her chickens? important stuff. and plastic and spare things like that are all kinda important. i was out on the beach yesterday and there were so many plastic bottles. like the little ones. they seemed so lonely.
and there were no dumpsters for them to go to.
but here i am, spewing nonsense like the water from the sink on tuesdays. nobody here cares about trash. but then, what do you care about? sunsets, mugs with coffee, fries and onion rings, friendship bracelets, polaroids, stories, people?
they all go one place in the end. trash just happened to get there first.
and maybe that’s okay.
like weeds are only weeds if you see them that way. it could be an happy little flower, like bob ross and his happy little trees that technically don’t need to be there but they certainly don’t hurt anything by existing. and that’s all they need to do. exist. it must be terribly difficult to assign roles and purposes for every single organism on earth to feel like everything is there for the greater good.
maybe this is the greater good. to stare at the wall above the stove after yeeting a gecko out of my bedroom (little son of a tax collector made a mess out of my shirts. not nice, mr. gecko, beGONE) and see stars appear out of nowhere. to slide into the kitchen with a piece of cloth that we’ll pretend is a cape, holding a mug in one hand and singing ben rector songs. to dress up as heroes and actively save the world in my mind. imagine. a hero. can you imagine that, wall? heroes.
i wonder what the wall’s favorite shirt is. bet you lunch it probably has green accents and is softer than my roommate’s blankets.
i don’t think i’ll ever stop feeling unimportant. i don’t think i’ll ever get over being ignored. i don’t think i’ll ever stop being scared, or feel truly confident, and i don’t believe that i’m going to be someone great.
but… i’m going to be someone. and that is great.
so i’m gonna make subpar art even if i question its worth, and i’m gonna share it even if nobody sees it, and i’m gonna write songs and sing them even if they’re never heard, and i’m going to run away and come back with things nobody has ever seen before, and will never see,
and i’m going to create little paper cranes for good luck, and send them out into the world knowing they’ll never come back. they’ll fly until they drop and land on someone who will be bonked on the head with a paper crane and then they will have to look up, and then they’ll forget the crane and their head and look at the clouds, and the invisible sky dragons will probably watch in amusement and sprinkle down mind magic to possess them and start having to be and start being, and my paper crane will have fulfilled its purpose, which wasn’t even a purpose, and it was the best one of them all.
i’m gonna write poetry about storms because i like storms. and i’m gonna play minor keys because i like how it sounds. and i’m gonna make little fires out of sticks just to watch them burn and marvel at creation by destruction.
what else am i gonna do?
i’m gonna draw even though it’s not good. and i might write books and not care about editing. and i’m gonna bake and not care about the dishes in the sink. and i’ll writing a broken musical about a broken world and how they learn to piece themselves together.
and i’m gonna tell myself that it’s okay if only one person sees it. if nobody sees it. if nobody says anything, i will take that as my cue to keep talking, and by the time i’m done i’ll have accidentally told the story of history and preserved it through a mishmash of languages and gestures and it’ll be epic.
i want to do more. what more?
i’m gonna talk about stuff even if it doesn’t matter. i’ll talk about people, black and white and red and yellow and brown and every color of the rainbow and i’m going to mention my friend’s grandmother esthella who was so wrinkly when she smiled you couldn’t see her eyes and thus it took me five days to learn she possessed gray eyes, and when you looked into them it was like staring into an underexposed galaxy.
i’m gonna be bolder, maybe a little scaredybraver, and i’ll be nerdy and weird and imperfect and i’ll regret some things and i will learn to love doing things for the sake of doing them and in not caring about making history i will live forever and i suppose i’ll just have to do it alone.
i told two good friends i felt like a wallflower in this sad jaded artist vibe hours and they told me they were there.
and i said “well, so is the wall”
and they replied and said the wall didn’t care about me and they did, and i do believe they’re right. the canvas is not the friend, but rather for it.
i’m gonna try to push the inner critic potato away and i’ll let my voice crack and my lines smudge and my poetry break and it might not get me anything for my troubles but it won’t be trouble because it’s its own thing and that’s all it needs to be.
so, in advance, i apologize (that’s a canadian thing folx), because starting from now (no we were always trying it just went on and off) i’m going to let myself stop trying to be this and having to be that, speaking here and there, and i’m gonna be me.
i have. no clue who that person looks like.
but i guess i’m gonna find out.
so here we go. roll film.
~ i’m well aware of the shadows in my heart i want to feel tectonic shifts i want to be, i want to be astonished i want to be astonished, jo ~
i have never made sense, i never will, don’t worry too much about it
get to choose the level of teenage angst
*i n h a l e s*
hi! i’m jo! i identify as a moron, allergies include shrimp, dust mites, and the whole world apparently, unaddressed depression Thriving, and you’re watching
where nothing, and i can’t stress this clearly enough, nothing, goes right
featuring! war! bloodshed! government invasion of privacy! the beginnings of trauma! my nonexistent sanity! and most importantly, pizza with pineapple on it!
have f u n with That, Kids!
when i die say something nice wear comfy pajamas and bring fried rice watch all the instagram stories i set to private the things i’ve only said in the silence
when i die please gather round pretend i was a memory you won’t throw out wipe your tears and blow your nose forget about it all when you go
when i die if i ever called you friend do me a favor and for an hour pretend that the person you came to grieve actually made any mark in the light of eternity
my pinterest feed seems to worry about me and i admire that very much
like lately it’s been full of angry twitter posts and tumblr rants that cry for the dystopian protagonists to begin saving the day and like, can we handle that rn? nope
so now it has art of fantastical places and edits and happy comics and baking recipes and room inspiration and laugh out loud trashposts and all of this grossly domestic vibe which is super sweet but i wouldn’t ever say that if my life depended on it (nevermind that i just did)
the question is is it pinterest,
or is it the people who i follow that saved me from stressing over another source of bad news
either way, thank you
the following is a snippet of something i sent in to select friends, enemies, and undecided, and i figured it fit with the crack vibes this is emanating, so here you go
"i cannot talk very well.
especially to big macho guys.
especially if said big macho guy had seen me successfully hurl a knife into a palm tree and cackle like a stereotypical witch
(more on that later.)
"a n x i et yyyyy"
jo: AGHHH HUMAN"
i figured this out last night watching the storm beat down on the windows and honestly it passes the vibe check
my greatest fear is being irrelevant
and i wonder why, you know? is it a mental thing to feel everything more deeply than they’re meant to be? is it just me? could i just inherently not be good enough for anyone to want to interact? will i be doomed to leaving people too stunned to react?
and i don’t know how would i
what is the point of art if nobody sees it? what is the purpose of a message that isn’t heard? why say anything if nobody listens? why exist if it ultimately doesn’t matter?
and i struggle with reminding myself that things don’t require a useful purpose to be loved, and that is Okay, like how technically nobody needs nutella but the world would be a dismal place without it
and perhaps insignificance isn’t a horror, because then when you do anything nobody can say “but you’re supposed to be meaningful!” because you never were to begin with so you can just reply, “no, i’m being me” and that’s the best meaningful you can get
so here’s the thing
we’ve saying “black lives matter” seriously for a couple of weeks now and the message has been cried out for literal years
and yet, the overwhelming response seems to be “we Know, Stop Saying It :((”
and that’s frustrating
people being hurt without reason is frustrating. the hurters getting away with it is frustrating. the people who were supposed to help about it doing the exact opposite is frustrating. being ignored and being rejected and being laughed at and being forgotten is frustrating.
so no wonder people shout
just all that to say
harm can be passive
a m i n i p la y l i s t
it would be you – ben rector so will i – ben platt battle cry – the family crest paper rings – taylor swift king of anything – sara barielles
a self portrait
“don’t welookm a r v e l o u s, isn’titg a y” – talkfine (look colors)
oooh some beautiful people did some beautiful things lately: