“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”—Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad (via delucazade)
I can simultaneously be angry with white supremacy and love white people. I can be in love with a white woman and hate her ignorance at her own white privilege. I can get so frustrated with racism that I barely want to be around any white people, and I can share that with my white friends over a few drinks.
You might think that’s confusing. You might even call it hypocrisy. I call it being a person of color.
I smile like dead cities sometimes, the ones that have lights crawling along the skylines like centipedes with dim legs but you should know, you’ve seen me hide in the morning fog.
(He used to find himself along the curvatures of my chapped lips, he told me he liked my raspy voice blown out of my throat because it made my smile look more beautifully familiar.)
I always laugh like taxis stuck in downtown traffic, the ones the tourists always confuse for welcoming store lights on stormy, dark days; I was meant to be gone with haste but instead I sit, inviting strangers into my prison with skull for walls and my impatient, lukewarm laughter innocently seduces your heart wet from the dismal rain. You really don’t know this, do you?
(He used to turn his head when I laughed because my voice reminded him of a beauty he could never achieve, and I always believed him because he was the one who told me I have broken constellations for neurotransmitters but his love for incomplete souls was real, he said.)
But you tell me my wandering days are what makes me shine like raindrops with the sun rays caught in their bodies - you tell me I am a pioneer with a goal, with a hint of ambiguous transparency and for all the seconds unspent, I will believe you.
We all have something in common and that is life. We do things through it that defines us good or evil. We lives as much as we can according to our personality. Still, i want to ask you is that the way you wish you have lived your life? What do you think of your life? Take a little moment and think through it from the beginning to where you are. Well this is a story of My Life when the electricity bill is not paid.
My life, what can I say about my life. Based on your perception, i can say my life is what you wish you would never have to go through. My life is what nowadays they called depression I walked around with my head high as it can be; dragging behind me a life of sadness and frustration. I act as if i am happy about what is going on in my life. I talk as if i lived what you lived or feel what you feel, when deep inside i am carrying my own cross. I eat as if it makes me happy but pain is what is being afflicted in my body When i move i feel rusty, i feel chained to the bottom of sadness; the light is fading little by little Every second that passes in my life When i nourish my flesh, the food is to gnaw my inner being. When it landed there is no satisfaction, my hunger keep on roaring for me, my anger is raging increasing my loathe for mankind My life as today will never change because you do not change Nothing changes in this world. All that happen is that everything is re-introduce in another shape and persecute as harder than ever. You may get lost through my words but it will come down to this; My Life is the opposite of yours.
“Because when Kony 2012 came out, that was a big deal. But when Inuit children are starving because white people took over their country in epic acts of colonialism and to fix the problem white people might have to acknowledge their privilege to find a solution; well then no one wants to get their hands dirty.”—
“I used to work in a place like this” she said as we both watched the staff scurry between the office and the outside, swiping cards for freedom’s pass into the other realm, the one that would never quite feel like home again as she told me that it could happen to anyone “I used to work in a place like this” while they told us no and where we couldn’t go because it wasn’t time, everything was timed, allocated on printed out itineraries to keep us occupied so they didn’t have to but “I used to work in a place like this” made me wonder just what separated us from them and which one in years to come would sit next to a new young thing with their voice curbed by being shut in saying “I used to work in a place like this” in disbelief that the line between us had ever been that thin.
“I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.”—Thomas Jefferson, from a letter to Alexander Donald dated 7 February 1788. (via bookoasis)
“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficity disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”—Nora Ephron (via atomos)
“Literature was the passport to enter a larger life; that is, the zone of freedom. Literature was freedom. Especially in a time in which the values of reading and inwardness are so strenuously challenged, literature is freedom.”—Susan Sontag (via teachingliteracy)
In her stammering scintillations She owned the forlorn vesper Famished for an abeyance She was an armada of light A sprinkled sugar in the lattices Of a cobwebbed chandelier The ubiquity of the dark sky Was already her possession But she cannot see her petals That are tightly curled, of a sudden Wide open like a moonflower Fringing the dominion of The fringeless silhouette Of the constantly shifting weather And there was no trail That you have not followed Northern light, far behind Is south, distally are east and west What lisping choreography Can you not follow.
Anonymous asked: Okay, I've gotta be honest, first time I read your blog I was pissed. I felt so angry about what you were saying and was like "Why does she have to point out racism in fucking everything?" Two months later I'm glad to say, I'm a hell of a lot more intelligent because of your blog and I think I'm on my way of understanding and checking my privilege. Thank you so much.
You’re welcome. I keep telling people that the key is, when you get offended by something, stop, re-read the post about two more times, and then examine why you’re mad. If you go with that first knee-jerk reaction you’ll do nothing but contribute to the problem (and probably end up missing the entire point). Examining why you reacted the way you did will lead you to checking your privilege. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
“I scatter my voice to the four corners of the town
the water shapes time there
I mingle my body with the fragrances that emerge from night”—Abdourahman Waberi, from “Truce” (translated by Patrick Williamson)
We’re all bad people, we all killed someone we all self-harm we all kiss other boys and girls when our boy or girl is sitting at home crying. we all snort coke we all hold up 7-11s. we all want to watch the world burn hindenburg red. we all fall in love with the wrong people we all fuck strangers in bathrooms at parties
we’re all bad people just some of us have the decency to show it.
we’re all bad people, or at least I am, and you’re coming with me.
I love the way how shadows drape over bare skin, how they tuck away like scribbled secrets in the curves and creases made by muscle and bone.
I’d often find my eyes just tracing down your spine between the borders of light and shadow like they were the many faces of the moon.
and a lot of times I’d feel the absence of heat, how my hands were just trying to get a thermal reading from the surface and couldn’t but knew that there was still life in your complex infrastructure. so you’d try to draw me into your orbit, trying to reverse our polarities- but you could only ever pull tides, and you wanted to pull my arms like space shuttles and my fingers like astronauts which could only ever plant DNA onto your skin- because you wanted to fill the millions of craters on the surface of your skin not with the dying embers of stars or interstellar debris, but the feeling of fingertips leaving more than just DNA but the memory of touch that’d remind you each night you spent alone, someone would look up at you from stuffy bedroom sheets or the cold steel of park benches and say “Hello”. and thats the only thing you really needed to feel fine.
you once told me that we were two sides of a spectrum, but we we’re really just an inseparable pair in our own intimate orbit.
“Water: no matter how much, there is still not enough.
Come rain, come thunder, come deluged dams washed away,
Our thirst is unquenchable. A cloud in the water’s a siren.
We become two shades, deliquescent, drowning in song.”—Marin Sorescu, from “Fountains in the Sea” (translated by Seamus Heaney and Joana Russell-Gebbett)
1 later. late night, you’re shirtless, neck firm and pillow pressed to your chest as you lie in bed backside up. lights dimmed. spread across your sheets: an array of gauze and ointment. you’re biting hard into a stuffed animal i’m dressing your wounds (kiss each bruise, lick off the dried blood coat every gash in saliva?) and i’m trying not to glamorize what they did to you.
2 earlier. i am wearing a white bikini with a pattern of exploding red hearts lying on my empty stomach, legs slightly apart. you are twenty feet away. i don’t see you. you are pretending not to see me— and it’s not because i’m pretty, it’s because i’m there.
“What to do with this grief today? I don’t know what good is sadness unless we stand still with it, hold it under the tongue, savor it, and say to ourselves, “Here I am, if I had any doubt at all, here I am.””—Sandra Cisneros from her April 14, 2011 letter (via popca)
She’s indifferent to her beauty - now that’s a stunning feature. Comfortable with where her facial attributes sit and how her hair frizzes in even the slightest bit of humidity. She’s comfortable with the way her skin sits centimetres away from her bones; she loves the way it breathes after her daily sprint. Did you know, she used to sit in piles of National Geographic mags and Reader Digests? That someone in between the paper cuts and mental stimulation, she read that the average person spends a total of twelve years of their life in boredom - her lifetime had not surpassed the amount of years she was reading, and she froze in epiphany and she never spent another moment unconscious again; every action she imprinted onto the universe was analyzed with clarity. Even in struggle she was graceful. That’s what makes her extraordinary now; the time it took to ride the tram from school was used to think about the details of her day, the phrases she expressed, the stories she retained. Can you imagine the weight of your words with a subconscious that promises to befriend you, only so he can illuminate each neurone to exude the cruciality of every waking, breathing second. Knowledge like that is not a burden, a lifestyle of that magnitude is never an inconvenience with proper training. She met people who couldn’t stand the quiet because they hated the way the thoughts in their heads fell apart or spiralled themselves into dark places. It took her a while to understand that nobody lived the same way. It took a bit of time to get over the loneliness that comes with eternal fascination. That’s what makes her beautiful. She is a whole, solid, person. That is almost impossible to come by in your lifetime.
Let me tell you why I haven’t written a piece on fathers. The same reason I give back the roses on my door step on Valentines; the same reason I ask for no presents on my birthday. Crowds are vicious. The most beautiful things become toxic where there is over-population. I was given a chance to live three lifetimes - four including the one I write you with. One of a Roman Empire, set to fall by the hand of a magnificent rebel. Another, in a time of calculation and horseback conquer. And the last, in an ancient era where science and the gods are one. When I was twelve, hard headed and with a led filled heart in my left side that inked my eyes jet black, Islam taught me that the good fight. You see, you can’t simply sit and watch the back allied streets of India, as child after child dies. But what will it take. Watching a family on the floor in defeat after the nutrients in that 3 month old fail to give her one last breath. You can’t possibly imagine. The incomplete cry she let out before her eyes closed stays ringing in the room for days. And where there are rooms just as silent, you still hear her every so often. Or does it take holding that child and feeling the soul escape with an exhale before you have a fire that demands justice and equality. Sometimes you have to stand up and speak where others can’t - and the words etched in Arabic told me not to do so without a bellowing voice. You cannot train someone to go into battle without making a boulder of their mental wall. But then you meet the people who force themselves into indifference and you can’t fathom how someone simply turns robotic. Let me tell you. It is a procedure of constant lying. Mutilating themselves from the inside until they can’t feel anything else because the self infliction is so distracting - that’s what these people are made of - the ones at the top. I realized that all they know is fire so, I stood ready to torch them all but little did I know that they had flamethrowers much mightier than mine, because after all, that’s all they knew to do: react to hatred with a bigger dose of it. Just before I hit the trigger, Isa took my weapon away and told me to fix myself first. An act of kindness can be nothing more than a pile of ash if it is fuelled with nothing but anger and hate. But try to teach a soldier to love - it is almost impossible. How can you kill an enemy. How can you pierce your victim’s heart. It’s absurd at first but there are fragments in the words of a brown skinned man that hold more truth than any other modern day quote. He learnt it from the gods, but ‘nameste’ was highly untranslatable to his general population. Not to me. Not to someone who greets by addressing themselves and the ‘father’ as one. But my second life stood still as I regenerated; the Bhagavad told me before it was too late, that there was no line between evil and goodness. It is the most enlightening thing to understand that things simply are. Beings simply be. That is not to say you can’t change it - on the contrary - it’s within ourselves that all our power and influence lies. But you can only change it without rage and emotional hinderance. Your intellect is all. And all of these lives, all of these live within me. I am a glowing soul gliding through.
Now let me tell you what attempted to destroy these lives. People. When something so powerful and pure get into the hand of growing individuals - chaos ensues. Knowing your spirit is the most intimate thing. It’s baring your eternal self naked - it can’t be done in front of crowd. That’s why religious communities fail. That’s why educational facilities have hierarchies. That’s why political structures have no faces.
This knowledge was allowed in me by a man who grew callouses so I could read. These epiphanies grew rapidly with the safe haven he built for my mind. So let me tell you about love. A love that is harvested with the utmost struggle. An unconditional faithfulness. It is impossible to put into a lifetime - nevermind a day. Made by a man who built me to be a spiritual collage and scientist all at once.
I refuse to take anything I hold so dearly and give it to a community of people to compete and fight over. In a day they could destroy it. My love for him is not for display.
People will constantly advise you and tell you what to do with your life, who you should marry and how you should live, I may even do that once in a while but don’t ever fall into the trap of living our dreams. We may want you to be a doctor but if you want to be an artist living in a cool loft, waiting tables and rollerblading everywhere? Do that shit. Don’t ever let me or anyone else change the course of your dreams because really, dreams are all we have to hold on to that are purely ours. When you do start looking for a husband (or a wife) look for someone that looks at you and has that look in their eyes. You’re probably wondering what I mean by that look, I mean the look that lets you know that you’re the person they’ve always been waiting for and there’s no one else they’d rather see. Look for someone whose friends tell you your boo told them all about how successful you are, brave you are, strong you are, intelligent you are .. not just how beautiful you are. Find someone that can see your inner beauty and appreciates that more than the beauty that is noticeable to everyone. Find someone that will love every single inch of you and never tire of hearing about your day.
Because if you find someone that doesn’t do any of that and ends up being an asshole I’m just letting you know beforehand I will take of my earrings and handle that.
“To live in this world,
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”—Mary Oliver, “In Blackwater Woods” (via trusimplicity)
In the middle of the night i will wake up, sweep my hand on the bed dreaming that she is next to me. She had robbed me from this dream, cuz just as the leafs fall from the tree during the fall season, she has sailed away from my heart and wiill never come back…
The number of white people who think “Reverse racism”, “Black people were mean to me once in 6th grade” & “POC won’t date me! They’re racist!” are relevant to conversations between people who have to worry about racism killing them & destroying their communities boggles my mind. We’re over here trying to save our cultures, our kids, & our sanity & you want me to hold your hand because a black guy told you he doesn’t date white girls? Farreal? Y’all I need you to spend some quality time with Google or some shit & pay attention to a reality outside your bubbles of privilege. Or shut the fuck up. Actually I probably need you to shut the fuck up anyway if you think the way to end racism is for POC to listen to white opinions on how to exist.
Totally rhetorical question here, of course. But why are you acting like our lives are more important than than their feelings? Like self-determination and survival and the fight to thrive as a multicultural, multi-tribal diaspora is more important than awkward feelings, and transitory moments of embarrassment or loneliness?
For real, it’s like you think we’re people or something.
I for one? Have a hard time believing they CAN’T see (even if just in the back of their minds) the parallels between; one time at school, this one time on the street…. with ‘One time my slave had the nerve to talk back to me. Can you believe it? Even though I treat her better than I have to, she started talking about her feelings, her family, her pain. I had to slap her silly! I am her family. I am her first priority! I am all she should ever be concerned about!’
[general trigger warning for child sexual abuse, abusive relationships]
I want a survivor funeral.
Seven years ago, I was in an abusive relationship. It was relatively short (just a few months), but it happened at a time in my life when I was extremely vulnerable (the same year the sexual abuse was discovered, among other issues). I was easily manipulated— too needy and eager to please the other person.
When I finally came out on the other end of everything, I wanted to destroy things. I wanted— needed— a concrete, visceral way of saying, “I survived you, and I’m still standing”. So I took all of the notes and letters, the little trinkets and mementos I had collected from that time, and with my friend S, we burned everything in her backyard. It was a shoebox full of things. My friend helped me tear paper apart so that it would burn faster— she knew it was too much for me to handle on my own.
I ripped up the letters, trying not to reread them in the process, trying not to rekindle the nostalgic feelings of attachment I still had to my abuser. I watched a receipt from Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom crumple up and melt; I tried not to remember the time we laughed at the way the water ride soaked my shorts through so that it looked like I had peed myself. I tore the pages out of a notebook, and, growing impatient with how long it took to go one by one, I wrestled the wire binding out and dumped the whole thing in. It was liberating. I freed myself from that abusive person by destroying the objects associated with them.
It took me a year before I fully understood that relationship was an abusive one— before I could even name it. But on that day, without even realizing it, I had had a funeral of sorts, a death and rebirth of who I was.
I want a funeral now. Being abused has completely destroyed potential mes that could have existed. It’s rewritten my possible avenues of happiness and future success. It’s warped my sense of safety and self in ways that I may never completely understand.
I deserve a survivor funeral. Chungyen deserves one, now that I am Elle. I want to say goodbye to the president, the astronaut, the soldier, and the school teacher I once thought I could be, in a time when my future seemed full of possibilities. I want to say goodbye to that “normal” person I could have been. I want to say goodbye so that I can start to create my own future out of what is still here. I need to if I am going to continue surviving.
I want to say goodbye to the little boy who died so long ago, in a dark place with no light, alone and hurting so much— more than anyone, child or adult, ever should. I want to say goodbye so that this hurting boy— still clinging on to a world that wasn’t meant for him— can finally get the rest and peace he deserves.
A survivor funeral doesn’t signify an end— it points to a beginning. It means “live as fully and as well as you can, because it might not be this way forever.”
you know when you’re constantly in this perpetual state of “what the fuck is happening to my life?” and everything around you keeps going wrong — my life is that kind of shit storm right now. you keep wondering “when will this crap end?” — what you don’t know is, it’s about to get worse. or people say “you have it better than most, so feel good about your life” what do i care if i have it better than someone else, am i supposed to find joy from someone else’s misery? because their suffering is greater than mine? all i know is my own pain.
they never tell you when the going gets tough - it gets fucking tough.
i can’t help but think “how did i get here?” how do i not remember, how i got here.
my body is failing to obey me. my feelings are coming out in actual form of vomit — i had my arms wrapped around the toilet all night because i got tired of running back and forth from my bedroom to the bathroom. i saw a spider crawling on the floor — and i wanted to crush it. then i started thinking, if i kill that poor thing, it’s mommy and daddy, and if it has siblings will all wonder where it went. so instead i decided, “i’m dying, why not just fucking sleep here?” and i did pass out from exhaustion — with a trickle of puke slithering down my chin. my dad hovering over me in the morning “did you sleep here?”
what i really needed was my mother. but she’s choosing to be somewhere else — drowning her sorrows in cups of tea and tormenting my father with her long list of disappointments. i have to say, i will be that wife one day since i am her daughter.
in my delirium, i was having flashbacks of the time i was in the same position — puking my guts out because i took a bottle of tylenol — i didn’t know the pain would be so bad. i had made a plan to die — my wrists were bleeding all over my mothers precious italian tiles — but all i could think about was “how did i get here?”
while i was regurgitating my meals, i was thinking, i miss being happy. i felt raw from the inside out but all i could remember was being happy. when you lose something — all you can think about is getting it back. i feel like my entire world is upside down. everything around me is black. “how did i get here?”
then i think of you.
i’m choking back tears because you make me so sad. i have this need to swallow you whole — i need to consume you so i can fill myself but it feels like someone is taking a chainsaw through my heart with your silent dissonance.
my heart is always crumpling up into fists. i want to rip it out and eat it, so i stop feeling.
you know how they say “never lose hope”. well, what does a person do when they have none left?
then all you’re left shouting is “HOW DID I GET HERE?”
Yesterday, my mother confided to me that the reason she was fired from her longtime job at a prominent financial firm was that she refused to sleep with her boss. I found out because now, ten years later, her new boss has begun to make suggestive comments to her in private and she is afraid of being fired again.
My mother is a single working woman. She is the first and only member of her family to go to college and immigrated to the US to find a job to give me a better life. When I was born, we could not afford even to buy beds. We slept on mattresses on the floor. My mother has rarely come home on time for dinner. She works late nights and weekends at the office to fund my dreams of going to law school.
She was fired when I was still in elementary school. If it were not for the help of a well-connected male friend in finding a new job she would have been unemployed and unable to support me. If she is fired again from her current position she will certainly not be able to find a new job in this economy. She has no time or means to wage a legal battle against a major corporation.
I need feminism because a career should not be a game of Russian roulette where one must rely on the kindness of powerful men to dodge the bullet. Because I may face similar problems when I, too, am responsible for providing for my family. Because I can think of no realistic remedy that can protect my mother. Because while I was angry, my mother was only tired and said “it probably happens at most firms.”
I need feminism because I am compelled to hide my face for fear of further jeopardizing my mother’s career. Because I can’t risk that one day, my speaking out may hurt my own chances of employment.
I need feminism because it is more than the activist’s creed. It is the everywoman’s experience . For a mother and her daughter, it is part of the American dream.