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A Simple Late Night Jot on Friendships

I think there’s something to be said about the way we choose to deal with friendships. I remember feeling as if I had to have a large number of friends because I didn’t know what I wanted for myself. I’ve learned that you are who you surround yourself with and it’s important to think about that.

Through this transitional phase in our early to mid-twenties, I feel content in knowing that regardless of proximity I have a great support system. I can’t say I always have a go-to friend within my everyday reach, but I don’t think I need that because I always like to emphasize the importance of independence. I love my chosen few so much and I’ve never been more satisfied with the relationships I have. Friendship isn’t about being all over each other 24/7. I think friendships are with those where feeling connected doesn’t necessarily need to constantly have words. I also think that friendship importantly lies within our partners and significant others, but in ways in which interdependence contributes to a unique and special kind of relationship that isn’t the same as “regular” friends.

Maintenance and acknowledgment are what makes me feel most secure in them. I also think it’s important to come to a place where you only accept authenticity because you know your worth. I hope that throughout the many more transitions in my lifetime these friendships I have will evolve attached to the same roots and that the new ones will be grown delicately and with generosity. 

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Let’s Reflect: Feeling Otherized

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Being otherized is a topic I recently came across when analyzing a story called My Father’s Chinese Wives. The story was about a father who had been left alone following the passing of his wife 12 years prior. He was in his 70s and basically wanted to buy a new Chinese wife. Among the many discussion questions of the story, my class and I were told to analyze why the father’s two daughters had such opposition to his father’s actions.

The two daughters were biracial—German on their mother’s side and Chinese on their father’s. They never identified much with their Chinese side because of the discontent they had with their father and also because they were raised in Los Angeles. So, what does that have to do with me?

Well, the daughters’ lack of identification to their father’s culture and point of view of it got me thinking about how I could somewhat identify with the issues they dealt with in terms of feeling culturally lost at times. It may seem pretty simple to have grown up in Northern California, taking a 3-year gap in Mexico, and coming back to my life here. In fact, it is pretty simple. I was able to bounce back just how I wanted to, but what that left for me in hindsight was a sense of confusion on how I fit into these two cultures that I claim.

Prior to my moving to Mexico during high school, I obviously was aware of my Mexican-American-ness. However, having only briefly gone to Mexico a few times before that and growing up with a generally very “American” way of living here in the states, I never got too into my roots but was always reminded of the struggles that my immigrant parents went through. The move to Mexico put me into a culture shock. I felt so different there. I felt like everybody could feel that I wasn’t from there and I didn’t like that feeling. I had always felt otherized in California because of my lack of masculinity as a kid which led to being frequently teased by peers and now I had to pile feeling foreign on top of that.

Moving back to California after Mexico is an experience that I am extremely grateful to have been able to do. It left me an obligation to my Mexican side because it awakened the thought in my mind that I would never be able to simply melt into the U.S. My entire family isn’t here—it’s just me. That makes it harder to fully dive into certain experiences here because sometimes I feel like they’re not my traditions anymore. I think the “problem” per se is that I have yet to settle into my own version of events.

Today being settled in my American life I’m much more culturally aware of my background and am extremely proud of my roots and my Mexican heritage, but I know that I live a quite American lifestyle. I try my best to synthesize both because I want to grow up and have my future children grow up speaking Spanish and know where their grandparents are from and how our culture is so rich and beautiful. I’ve always embraced my fondness for all around diversity.

Regardless of all of this, I’m constantly left with questions: Is it odd or wrong to feel like I don’t fit into either of my cultures sometimes? Should I even have to not want the “otherized” feeling? Is it hypocritical to constantly claim myself to be one who acclimates easily to situations when I feel like the “other” person at times? Or is this simply a very American thing because we’re such a melting pot in progress?

There are an immense amount of ways that we can be led to feel otherized and I believe we all experience it in a way. I’d love to hear points of view from those of you have ever felt this sense of cultural otherness. Let’s reflect…

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The misconstruction of the LGBTQ+ community

Many people are well aware of our LGBTQ+ community and the basics of who it may consist of. Within the community lies an unfortunate amount of segregation that the ordinary Joe might not expect.

After many personal and 2nd hand experiences, I’ve come to the realization that many of the people I personally know (or based on stories I have read through various mediums) we feel like we don’t belong. Because of that, I’ve experienced many LGBTQ+ people in my life like friends and co-workers, etc. who frankly give up on finding friendships, romance, or even their casual rendezvous with whomever they’re attracted to within our community and are completely discouraged. They settle in their own ways and call it a day. Hey, I’ve been there. In many ways I’m terrified of that feeling. However, I don’t think that it is a lost cause.

The segregation, I believe, comes from a huge judgmental feeling placed upon us for not always being made feel like we’re a part of everyone else. We find our comfortable place and build upon that. Groups within groups within groups and us not remembering that we actually all fall under one category because were brought down enough as a whole anyway. Just because we have our subcategories, doesn’t mean that the most different of them can’t get along. We’re so quick to shut out others that it becomes hard to know where we belong. Many people have told me that they originally imagined a welcoming feeling in a place like a gay bar, but were quickly showed otherwise. Safe places don’t always feel like said and that is completely dreadful.

For some reason, standards to even get along with other fellow LGBTQ+ are set too high. Why do we have those standards? Why don’t we support each other more instead of bringing each other down? Why is it that we can’t treat each other with more acceptance and tolerance within this group of our people? Why is it that we’ll all hardly stand up for us LGBTQ+ people as a whole but when it comes to defending subcategories or subcultures we can’t happily do so? Are we all just a bunch of hypocrites or is it a lot more complicated than that?

No fats, no femmes, no Asians, the misunderstanding of the trans community, bisexuality doesn’t exist, judging people’s kink and leather communities, masculine men thinking they’re superior, people believing feeding into the stereotypes, the list could go on forever…

Those are all things that we as an entire community should be more aware of because being aware, after all, leads for calls to action. I want to be known for being a part of an inclusive and loving community of people, not for being a part of a judgmental and subconsciously segregationist and hypocritical community. This misconstructed community is living in a climate where this is the last thing necessary with the amount of progress that has been made so far. We shouldn’t separate each-other—we should help build and keep each other up and together.

In reality, this subcategorizing within a community can be applied in so many groups of people, which is something extremely diverse and difficult to even examine. But this is what I know and things I’ve heard my people talk about I thought that if at least one more person reads this and gains at least an ounce of awareness to open themselves up to more it could make at least one of our lives life easier and you never know when a chain might form.

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Hold Your Hand

Hold your hand as you would hold that of your mother.

Hold your hand as you would hold the one of your lover.

Hold your hand to respect you and me.

Hold your hand and truly be free.

These few words are simply a reminder to be there for yourself. You’re just as important being a self-sufficient human being than every other person who tries to make themselves seem of higher importance. I randomly and quickly wrote this recently when I was thinking about myself and situations of self-love or lack-there-of. I believe that self-love is one of the most important things we have. I don’t mean it in a “treat yourself” kind of manner. I mean it in a way where one has to be self-aware and take care of themselves physically and emotionally.

It’s tough out there. We all have our many struggles that constantly are breaking us little by little. We all are constantly striving for more and, at the end of the day, we’re simply people trying to get by in this world where we don’t know what tomorrow could bring. Especially around this almost post-holiday season where we feel like we’re floating in between years.

I’ve had times where I want to let go and not care about how I look or what/how I think of things. There have even been times where I don’t care so much that I want to let go of the strong morals and ethics that I believe in. It’s natural for us to want to take everything off our shoulders and let someone else take the wheel or to let situations just happen. However, it is in that moment that I realize that as much as the negativity comes to take over, I simply won’t allow it. I will not allow that self-discouragement to define the way I function in life or to allow things to happen that I know deep inside of me that I do not want.

It makes it that much more worth it to actually get the things done and finished. It brings a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. Hold your hand with the love you would hold your mother’s with. Hold your hand with the passion you would hold your lover’s with. Hold your hand to keep respecting yourself to allow for respect of others. Hold your hand to keep up and feel free. Give yourself that helping hand because many times we don’t realize that we’re our own answer to the many doubts surrounding us.

x

 

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No Room For Hate

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I came into Pacific Center this morning to do my second volunteer shift this week. I like squeezing them in every chance I get so I loved that I got to come in again this week.

I happened to show up earlier today by accident and decided to go home and come back when it was time. As was walking up to the building for the second time this morning, I see my coordinator taking photos of the facade. I mentioned to him that all of the writing on the ground wasn’t here when I came in earlier. It was beautiful to see the messages and drawings of support written with the colorful chalk. My question, though, was why?

After settling at the front desk I was told that yesterday a man came up to the building, took one of our flags, and set it on fire. After the front desk volunteer walked up to tell them that what they were doing wasn’t okay, they got punched in the face by the man. Luckily the man was later caught by the police down the street and arrested for committing a hate crime.

It’s extremely disappointing to know that even our safe places where services are provided for the good of our community are vulnerable to hate. I want this to be a reminder to everyone that we should always stand up for what we believe in and support one another. There is no room for hate here and clearly, our neighbors know that. Keep spreading kindness and don’t tolerate negativity.

x

Update 12:17 pm: I’ve been answering the phone and people have been calling to offer support and assistance — there have even been gifts left. It’s so nice and heartwarming to know that even if nothing extremely major happened there is still a good flow of positivity.

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More Color More Pride

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The #MoreColorMorePride flag with the updated black and brown stripes now flies outside of Pacific Center and that makes me even more proud to volunteer at a loving place like this in my birth town. There is still continuous division and blatant racism within the community that should not be tolerated—the update shows the importance in the representation of us all. Inclusivity makes us better. Diversity is valuable.

* Update: my brother happened to ask “Since when was skin color involved in the flag?”

Here’s my opinion on it: “It’s not about the color of our skin. It’s about the fact that the flag originally was intended to represent the entire community but because even within our community people of color, etc. have been frequently marginalized I think it does a good job at showing that all should be included. Also, it’s not to be confused for a replacement, but more like an addition. Kind of  like how there is a Trans flag and Intersex flag.”

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An Open Letter to Sisi

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It’s no wonder I had been thinking about you so much lately. It’s because you were already gone; I was just yet to be informed. I can’t believe it has been a month already and I just now know. I think that hurts me even more because it makes me feel even more guilty that I wasn’t there.

I actually remember the first day you were given to us. You were an adorable white ball of fluff and we were so excited to add you to our family along with your brother, who you’re now with. You had a such a cute pink nose. You were the perfect fit for us. I always associate a brown teddy bear you were obsessed with my childhood. You were so playful as a puppy and as you matured you became always so calm. You were always so loyal. Ridiculously loyal. You always waited for me to go to sleep so that you could go to sleep too and you were by my side all night. I loved the way you smelled. You smelled like comfort. Your tummy was always warm and your little tongue would always seize the opportunity to try to lick my arm. I remember telling my mom that you are my “dog mom” because you took care of me in your own ways. You were my ride or die. I could always feel the love you gave and it was so special because it was pure.

I remember the day I left mom and dad’s house and I had to leave you too. It broke my heart knowing that I couldn’t be there to take care of you and the rest of the dogs. I think somehow you always knew when we were leaving long term though. I left and only saw you for a very short amount of time the 3 times I went. I always have felt so guilty leaving you guys because I knew that you guys would never understand why I left.

This past December, when I visited, I had a peculiar feeling. You were smaller than before, you looked more tired, you had less fur, but the love you gave was even stronger. You kept me feeling whole because you were a part of me for most of my life. I had a disquieting feeling that this time when I said bye to come back to California that it would be the last time I would see you. I hoped so bad that it wouldn’t be. Whenever I called I always tried to ask about you as if that would make a difference in you knowing that I always think about you.

Unfortunately, that last time was, in fact, the last. Now I’m completely heartbroken for the second time with the thought that I couldn’t be there in your last moments and I couldn’t be there to help. Especially because you have already been gone for a month. Maybe I thought about you so much lately because your spirit is now close to me. I couldn’t be there to hold you or at least look at you to show support you deserve in the way you always showed your loyalty to me. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there more in your last few years. You will remain always in my heart.

Many will think it’s so stupid that I’m so heartbroken over a dog. But those people will never understand the bond that one can have with the special little creatures that you are.

I’m forever going to miss you, my sweet little love. I’m sure Cookie and Coco are also missing you greatly. You and Toto are now together in a place where everything is good and I hope to reunite with you both one day. Thank you for being with us for almost 16 years. There will never be another like you.

2001-2017

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