living.

living.

i am
alive
as
I will let
myself
feel.

i will not
let you
breathe your
way
into my lungs,

nor sweet nothing
your way
through my ears.

these hands
have held
more than
your fingers.

they’ve held together friendships
and families
and pieces of
ikea furniture
i was forced to
build
myself.

i will remember
these days
that blurred
into
dark.

won’t let myself
forget
that being alone
is not
the same
as feeling
alone.

will remember
that having life
is not the same
as living.

i hope that
you will
remember this
too.

ix reasons why.

ix reasons why.

to the survivors-
i see you,
i love you,
i am you.

 

i.
because walking home,
I grip my keys
as if
they were
extensions of my hands—

as if they could
protect me
like the law
can’t.

ii.
because it doesn’t matter
what you
wear,
or what you
said,
or how you said
it.

iii.
because one in four
is too
damn
many.

iv.
because
our options
should not be
dignity or
despair.

v.
because the burden
of truth
is always
ours to
carry;
especially if
we have no
proof.

vi.
because how do
you explain
good
men
rape
too.

vii.
because even
those with
the sharpest
tongues
need protection.

viii.
because those who want
“clear and convincing”
evidence
have clearly
never been
assaulted.

ix.
because
it is already
so
hard
to say
“yes,
this is my reality.
please,
help.”

x.
because apparently
we need
more reasons
for why
we are
worth
a shot at
justice.

grandmother.

grandmother.

for my yin yin whom I miss dearly and have so many questions for.

i did not know you,
not in typical terms.

you were gone before
i even knew
what to
ask,

before I knew
mortality.

but i know you
in other ways.

in the ways your blood pumps
through my veins,
under skin

in the ways my feet
and hands
are always
cold

in the ways my father
remembers your cooking—
mixing what you knew with what you
hoped for

in the ways you’d watch us splash in the pool from the kitchen window,
live fish awaiting it’s fate in the sink,
wok heated almost as hot as the summer sun

in the ways i remember
your imperfect laughter,
squeezed together so tightly
into an armchair,
broken record player to our left,
dreams of seeing me grow up to your right.

how does a poem make up for
the years
I let myself
forget?

I don’t know if I
believe in
afterlife,
but if it means
the possibility of
knowing you
fully,
then I will believe
anything.

The One Where Christina Gushes Her Feelings.

The One Where Christina Gushes Her Feelings.

I’m going to graduate school!

A lot of my friends already know this, but I felt like I should share the news again.

Look.

It’s been three years since I knew I wanted this for myself, but I kept pushing it off because I felt I just wasn’t ready.  So, this is a big, big, huge deal for me.

The grad application process (and my many, many subsequent rejections) has been a unique experience–one that has been financially costly, emotionally debilitating, and strangely humbling.  I spent many nights writing, editing, and re-editing (did I mention editing?) my personal statements, talking to faculty and graduate students at different programs, and doing a lot of research on schools.  It got to the point where I was getting pretty unrealistically attached to particular programs.  My overactive imagination had me thinking of how amazing it would be go to a certain school, meet new friends and have cool & intellectual conversations.  And so, when I was getting rejection after rejection, it was tough.  Like, questioning my entire life trajectory, sort of tough.

But, surprisingly (at least to me), I’ve made it through and am ready (hopefully) to make some sort of mark on the world around me & impact at least a little part of it for the better.  I’m tremendously excited about the research that faculty in the department are doing, and it’s really nice to know that I’ll get to be a part of it, while also doing my own research and producing knowledge–not just consuming knowledge like I consume Taco Bell in my bed at night.

Okay.  So, now that I covered me being excited and whatnot, here’s where the gushing and mushy stuff starts.  You’ve been warned.

I know how lucky I am.  I recognize how serendipitous it all is.  And I don’t take it for granted.  Whenever something sort of big in my life happens, I try to reflect, be thankful, and extend my gratitude for my loved ones to an e-abyss of sorts (aka my blog).  It’s the closest thing I have to prayer.

I am so unbelievably grateful for the people and the places that have made me the person I am today.  I couldn’t have found my place and come to love myself the way I do if it weren’t for the friends, mentors, and family I have that keep me grounded.  That sense of love for myself and my community is what gave me the courage to pursue Sociology to study activism and social movements in the U.S…especially during a time when public education is under attack and there’s actually no job security in studying what I want to study since the tr*** administration doesn’t seem particularly fond of academic disciplines that question systems of capitalism and white supremacy, but that’s a different blog post for a different time.

ANYWHO, although I am incredibly nervous and almost overwhelmingly daunted by moving across the country, leaving my home, and starting a Ph.D. program, I am super happy…like ALL CAPS LOCKS TO EMULATE MY SCREAMING INSIDES happy.  And the people in my life have motivated me, given me confidence, and encouraged me to believe in myself.

If I listed out every person who gave me hope and believed in me even when I questioned a lot of my skills & aspirations, this post would go on for days.  Even me realizing that as I’m typing makes me want to smash my keyboard in delight.  From my parents who dealt with me flip-flap-flopping through different dream careers (fashion designer, stylist, business owner, literallyanythingexceptapharmacist) and still supported me when I got straight up D’s and F’s because they “knew I was smarter than that”, to my roommates who became my closest friends, I’ve been given a lot of wonderful people in my life.  Knowing that makes it so much harder for me to leave.  But, I’m certain I’ll move on to the next chapter with them in mind, motivating me to be just as kind and loving to others as they have all been to me.

Aside from actual people, I’m also exceedingly thankful to the place I have called home since my momma and poppa made me.

California, you have been so good to me.  You’ve taught me how to straddle waves, how to climb proverbial and literal mountains, how to fall, how to close my eyes without closing myself off.  You gave my grandparents refuge, let them dream, gave them hope, cradled their family in your valleys.  I don’t know what my life would be or what their life would be if we called anywhere else our home.  I don’t dwell on it much, but when I do, I know it would be different.  You gave me a safe place to grow, not without struggle, but your stretch of land saved me.  I will always know you as “home”, even if miles separate us.

Even though I’m leaving, I’m happily confident (or confidently happy?) to know that the friendships I’ve cultivated over years are strong enough to overcome geographic distance and that the love I have for my community, my friends, and my family knows no bounds.  I might be hundreds of miles away, but I know I’ll still get a call from my mom telling me to keep warm and be careful of snow.  I know I can count on my best friends to send me memes on Instagram to keep me in the pop culture loop.  And while I don’t think it would be feasible (or healthy), I know I could get plenty of people to Fed-Ex me some boba and Chinese food if I needed.  That kind of support is what I’ll miss and what I’ll be searching for wherever life takes me.

So thank you to whomever is out there, whether it’s a deity or the universe or something else entirely, I am so grateful.  I hope I can retain this feeling of gratitude when I’m stressed out beyond belief in approximately 5 months.

And the gushing is done.

xoxo,
Christina

solid(air)ity.

solid(air)ity.

empty promises
coat the surface,
smoke at the top of my
newsfeed

proof for your social media
that you care enough
to walk in
our shoes

i don’t want you
to put yourself
here.

i don’t want you walking
with me,
or talking
for me.

align yourself
with some other
ally.

i don’t want your
solidairity,
made from
nothing–
angry faces
on facebook posts.

when i give my people,
my pain,
my sacrifice,

walking in my shoes
does nothing
but trample on me
more.

take your “walk in her shoes” heels,
your op-eds,
your yellow-fucking-fever.

you made me sick,

and i’m still
recovering.

the love i know

the love i know

They say to write about what we know.

I know love.
I own love.
I give love.
So, “write about love,” I think.

The love I know is raw.

Unfiltered by rationale,
held together by imperfect people
who are okay with being imperfect
together.

The love I know is platonic.

A word that doesn’t do this love any sort of
justice,
because it always holds me together,
lifts me up,
is the love I take most for granted.

The love I know is familial.

Familiar.
The longest relationship I’ve ever known,
transcending bodies and time and borders.

The love I know is strength.

It echoes,
bounces off walls I try to contain them in.

The love I know is changing.

Quiet on some days
and loud on others;
whispers in gratitude and shouts out its joy.

The love I know is a love I haven’t found yet–
is waiting in a bookstore or a coffeeshop
or a computer screen.
is patient, because it’s what I lack.
is used to being put on hold,
because it knows I have a lot of love
already.

The love I know is our friendship,
one-worded hello’s,
and home–
is living a life I never planned for;
is life itself;
is me figuring it out
everyday
over and over again.

#DailyResistance: A 2017 Challenge in Taking Action

#DailyResistance: A 2017 Challenge in Taking Action

I’m tired already and it’s only been 2 weeks into 2017. 

President Obama is on his way out. Vice President Biden’s bright eyes will no longer light up my laptop screen unless it’s when I go through all the hilarious memes of him and President Obama’s brolationship.

But in all seriousness, we’re facing some seemingly insurmountable challenges with the incoming administration. Speaking as a progressive feminist and as an Asian-American womxn, I’m fearful of what the next four or more years will hold for myself and my loved ones.  Honestly, there have been a lot of moments when I just wanted to hide under my blankets, laptop fully charged, and stream Broad City until the sun comes up in 2020.

Then I realize, my electricity bill would be out of control and I don’t know what I would do for food.

Really though, there’s a couple other things holding me back from falling into a deep and dark despair.  The main thing is the hope and tenacity I see in a lot of my peers, from those who work with undocumented youth to those who work in the healthcare field.  There exists an incredible amount of energy and almost limitless ways for people to roll up their sleeves and get the work done. 

But with so many opportunities and an onslaught of media coverage about what we can do or what we should do to uphold justice, it seems…daunting.  I mean these are some gut-wrenching questions around what the hell should or could we do because there are too many options and things we care about to even start.

So in 2017, I thought I would keep track of the ways I am doing one of three things:

  1. Resist
  2. Advance
  3. Support

Now these are super broad terms, but what this is getting at is how can we take tangible action that moves beyond ranting on social media.  Because while social media is incredibly useful for spreading information and getting our frustrations out, it often times becomes an echo chamber of our beliefs with like-minded individuals.  And there’s always a need for spaces where we feel like we can be heard and understood. This is not trying to demean the importance of that.  But, what my hope is for practicing #DailyResistance is to move beyond thinking and discussing—to get into the practice of using our voices to stand up for what we believe in.  

And at the end of the year, it will be nice to be able to see what things I’ve personally accomplished, so I can say, “yes, I did what I could to make my community more inclusive and more loving.”  So, it’s a little bit self-congratulatory, but I think I know myself enough to know that I legitimately won’t get anything done if I don’t have some sort of self-induced reward system.  It’s like when I reward myself with a snack for writing a paragraph of an essay. It just gets things done.

But instead of snacks, it’ll be a huge colorful jar where I write on paper the things I’ve done each day to resist, advance, or support justice (as broad of a term as that is).

So, if you’re interested in joining me on my journey of #DailyResistance in 2017, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

As I’ve said, I’m going to try and do something each day that falls into one of three categories.  I’ll try to flesh out these terms more fully below.

  1. Resist – Resist acts of oppression, both state-sanctioned and personally mediated. Get trained in civil disobedience and nonviolence.  Call out harmful language when you hear it in conversations with friends, family, at work, or in classes.  Attend sit-ins, teach-ins, and protests.  Write to your congress people.  Call for their attention. Boycott corporations that get into shady business dealings or support policies that are harmful.  Let things get uncomfortable and be okay with being the only voice in the room who speaks up because others will follow.
  2. Advance – Advance my own ideas about justice and work on using my voice & being more confident/taking ownership of my beliefs.  This can take the form of writing more blogs for my own site or submitting pieces for alternative media.  Become more aware of how to use my voice and not apologizing for taking up space or speaking out.  Speak on panels or in classes or at meetings and forums.  When possible, uplift others to use their own voice and help advance their ideas too.
  3. Support – Support existing movements and organizations that work to advance justice.  Write about the work they’re doing, donate money when possible, volunteer your time. Call your legislators when they’re doing work you believe in.  Write letters to people and organizations to express your support.  We all need affirmation, but we don’t always express it enough.

These are just some of the things we can do to resist, advance, and support one another in 2017.  Let me know if I’m missing any ideas!  

With all the negativity and very real threats to our civil liberties, doing this challenge will hopefully make me feel a little more in control of my life and my role in everything. 

I’ll be updating with my progress on #DailyResistance —maybe it’ll keep me more accountable if I write about it every week.  

——

My act of #DailyResistance for 1/12/17:

My act of #DailyResistance for 1/13/17:

what if I just broke up with everyone in advance?

what if I just broke up with everyone in advance?

In trying to grapple with the reality of the upcoming election next week, I’ve been thinking about larger questions of compromise in politics that are heavily tied to moral and ethical questions. How do we interact with those who disagree with us politically and socially? What topics are we willing to compromise on? And what will it take for us to end relationships over such disagreements? This is just a beginning post, and I have no real answers, just more questions.

It would be easier if I just abstained from talking to people in general.  That way, I could avoid political disagreements altogether.

Politics is such a touchy subject for my generation, and rightfully so.  Because our political standing is so heavily tied to how we view ourselves in moral/ethical terms.  I don’t know if it is the same way in other countries, but in the United States in particular, our political parties like to always claim moral high ground, as if that makes them better politicians.  And some may say that being moral or ethical is a necessity in a politician, while others wouldn’t.

I am of the former group.  While I totally get why politicians should be hardened and steadfast, who’s to say that that makes them better in office?  I am more connected to and inspired by those politicians who believe in racial and gender-based equity, who support the LGBTQ+ community, believe in a safe and steady path to citizenship and don’t think that deportation is an adequate immigration reform policy.

I tie my political standing closely to my own moral or ethical beliefs. It doesn’t make sense to me to not vote my values.  Maybe that’s idealistic or naïve, but I’m fine being associated with those two terms.

I think a lot of people my age do this too.  But, it becomes really difficult to be politically engaged when your political beliefs can’t really be taken away from who you are as a person.

It’s like this.
We’ll say stuff like, “I respect you, but not your choices/decisions/beliefs.”

I don’t remember when I first heard this, but it’s something I constantly hear now whenever I engage with people that have differing political opinions. It’s as if they want to preface their argument with a disclaimer. “I’m about to totally offend you, but no hard feelings because you’re an okay person!”

And while I used to and sometimes still do think that way in certain situations, I think it’s a total cop out.  It makes it easier for us to distance ourselves from an ideology that is offensive or harmful to us.  But, can we really have a relationship of respect with someone who believes in something that is inherently detrimental to our own beliefs or way of life? Now that I’m a little older, I really don’t think we can.

Look. Disagreement is normal. If we all agreed with one another, we’d be living in an apparent utopia (and we’ve all read some sort of dystopian fiction, so we know that shit doesn’t work).
But whenever we say we respect someone, but not their beliefs, it’s not usually a little disagreement over if cake or pie is better (pie is the correct answer).  We’re talking about big issues with real implications on the survival and subsequent thriving of specific groups of people.

When we say things like we respect you, but we disagree with you, it makes us think it’s okay to be friends with people who are homophobic or racist or islamophobic or sexist or bigoted in general, because really, “they’re good people who are misguided/ignorant/misinformed”.

And I’m not saying cutting off ties with those people is easy or is what you should do.

It’s hard, because we all have friends or family who think, say, and act on things we don’t agree with. And I think we’d all end up as hermits in our own isolated caves if we just cut off ties with people who disagreed with us on moral and ethical questions.

But there comes a time when you have to decide how much are you willing to let slide, how much privilege you hold in allowing things to not be bothersome to you, and whether or not your disagreements are theoretical or have actual consequences.

Example? As a cisgendered, heterosexual womxn, I can totally choose to let homophobia run rampant because it’s not something that actively impacts me on a daily basis. I have the privilege of not even being aware of certain things happening in the LGBTQ+ community.  But then, if a close family member says something homophobic, or says that gay people shouldn’t be married, I would probably be like, “hey that’s a damaging thing to say. Why do you think that?”  (okay, I would probably say it with more emotional vigor than that, but you get my point).  What difference would it make if that family member was a distant relative that I rarely saw or spoke with?  Would I be more or less likely to speak up?  And then, what if it was a friend who said it, or even someone I didn’t like much already?

I guess my biggest question is where and how do you draw the line between simple disagreements and topics you consider so important that disagreement results in “damaging” a relationship?  And how do you know whether or not you should end a relationship, or put in the emotional work of doing your best to understand each others’ perspectives so as to have dialogue that can maybe persuade the other person to “being on the right side of history” so to speak.

[About to get on my political soapbox…you have been warned]

Okay.  Truth time.  I have friends and family who support Trump.  On a normal basis, I would be like, “that’s cool. Support politicians who you think have your best interest at heart.”  In millennial speak, “you do you.”

But I’m at this point where I really don’t want people to just have their own interests at heart.  We are not an isolationist nation (although there have been pockets in time when we were…Chinese Exclusion Act, tyvm…)

Think of people outside of your family or friend group–outside of your realm of existence. You’ve already spent the past year of this crazed political race thinking about what your own future would be.  Now think about someone you don’t know, someone you probably will never know.  Think of someone who is of a different racial group, economic class, gender identity, sexuality, ability than you.  Really think of that person in all of their being, as uncomfortable as it might be for you.  What would life be like for them if Trump was elected? If Clinton was elected?  What would our political system look like? What would our America look like?

I know it’s all theoretical and imaginative, but think of the people you claim to respect, despite disagreement.  Would you really be okay with their reality if you continue to believe the things you do, say the things you do, or act on the things you believe in?

Ultimately, this post could go on forever, but I have a lot of breadsticks to eat, so I’ll leave it here.

Have you cut ties with people who disagreed with you? How did you do it and what was the breaking point?  I’d be interested to know if other people feel this same way.

PS: don’t forget to vote if you can. and tweet goodbyes to our bbs Barack & Michelle. xoxo.
Because There Can Never Be Too Many Self-Reflections

Because There Can Never Be Too Many Self-Reflections

It’s been a while, my friends.  I have neglected this blog, much as I have neglected caring for myself.

Maybe it’s a reflection of my priorities–myself always falling last on the laundry list of things I need to get done.  Because somehow, “self-care” is not something that appealing when I’m writing my to-do list.  It’s not enough syllables to sound important to me.

And now, 2015 is essentially half over.  Already.  And as astonishing as that is to me, it also isn’t surprising at all.  What is surprising is how much I have accomplished, and yet how little I feel like I have progressed (and how much I still make excuses for my lack of perseverance and direction in both my research interests & my “personal projects”).

When I graduated almost exactly one year ago, I was sure that I would make the most of my “last summer of freedom”.  I thought I’d find myself.  I thought something would find me.  I really don’t know what I talked myself into believing, but I really and truly thought that my life would somehow dramatically shift into adulthood and that things would just happen for me.  I also thought I’d stop making run-on sentences a regular occurrence in my writing.

As it turns out, none of that happened.

What I learned instead is that adulthood and post-graduate life is hard.  I even wrote a blog post about it. You’d think that would be enough to teach me.  But alas, dear friends.  I inherited my father’s wit, but not his foresight. (Shout out to my pops if you’re reading this.  Love you, babs…and as a sidenote, I have never called my father “babs” before, but I think he’d find it endearing.)

When people tell you that working life is hard, they are not joking.  It is equal parts exhausting and liberating and confusing.  Colleges should make How To Survive Being In A Full-Time or More-Than-Full-Time-If-You’re-In-Non-Profits Job 101 course a pre-requisite for graduation.  But that would be a whole lot of paperwork to enforce, so instead, we’re stuck learning life the hard way–by actually living it.

And it is not that I thought working full-time would be easy or smooth-sailing 100% of the time.  But I did not know how tired you can get.  And how easy it is to get derailed and not put the effort into caring about yourself and your aspirations because you’re just too tired all the damn time.  Because working an 8-5 job is not like the three different clubs and organizations you used to juggle like a pro.  You can’t do a job and fifty million side projects without getting burnt out.  You just can’t. And I think that when I realized that (and am still realizing that), it hurts for someone like me.  Because I am a somebody who gets excitement and a unique sense of euphoria and doing multiple things at once successfully.  Having to put projects that I am passionate about to the wayside gives me a really visceral reaction.  It is a very real, raw kind of hurt that I can’t really explain except that it feels like you’re breaking up with the person you thought you loved, but didn’t really because you’re thirteen years old and not Justin Bieber, so you don’t actually know what love is.  And again, there’s that run-on sentence.

Really though.  I think that when I realized how exhausting it is to try and accomplish everything all at once and be everything to everyone, you’re kind of left with nothing for yourself.

I’m slowly figuring out what really matters to me and how I can use my skills and interests to provide real, impactful change.  It’s hard, but so worth it.  I know that I would rather spend five years building something I’ve done the research on and I know won’t be detrimental to target communities than get my hands on everything I have a remote interest in.  I’ve done that and seen others do it before and I know how bad it can be for those you’re trying to help–including yourself.

And I know that one day, I will be a professor that cares and be so many things for so many people. (I’ll also get the damn chile pepper on RateMyProfessor… y’all know what I’m talking about.)  But until then, I am understanding that I can’t beat myself up over not being at a certain place or having accolades that I know others my age may have.

And maybe this summer I’ll finally experience the magical summer that Disney Channel always produces movies about, minus the musical numbers.  Maybe I will finish writing my book(s) or explore a new place by myself.  And I’ll surround myself with people who care and do good things and make me laugh.   I’ll stop striving for perfection and start embracing uncertainty.  And I will finally know what it means to care about yourself–that being selfish in this context is one of the most selfless things you can do.

Once is Never Enough

Once is Never Enough

In terms of giving thanks, I wholeheartedly believe you can never say it or express it enough to those who have so heavily impacted you.  Sometimes I think it odd that another human soul can give another so much of themselves and still not be drained so as to stop that giving process.

But, as I have come to learn, for which I am very grateful, we are often capable of giving more than we thought possible.

I know I have another quarter at UCI, but it already feels like the end.  And when things end, we often say thank you (we say goodbye too, but I don’t think that’s appropriate to say yet).

So, I guess that’s what this post is for.  A little bit of sentiment amidst a whirlwind of last minute trip preparations, fretting over final grades, and midnight snacking.  A gigantic pile of laundry sits atop my bed as I sit on my roommate’s much comfier mattress, and I am slightly overcome with a sense of urgency.  I’ll try to make this quick, but I don’t think that’ll happen.  And it is by no means an all-encompassing list of thank-you’s, but a never-ending, never-quite-good-enough compilation of “thank you for entering my life and believing in me”.

—–

Professors & Academics: I had a wonderful evening with a great professor and mentor that I have grown to admire, respect, and love.  I think that often people see professors as intimidating species with lengthy egos and equally lengthy lists of publications.  And while that may be true for some of them, a vast majority of the ones I have had the privilege of getting to know have been genuine and kind in almost every way possible.  I thank them for their authenticity, dedication, and passion they bring each and every day of their lives.  I thank them for pushing me to follow my own interests and for providing me with a model of how to conduct myself in order to make myself (hopefully) as good of as an academic as they are.

Housing: My first real employment was given to me by UCI Housing.  I met and made great friends, obtained some life skills (like learning to deal with people on a regular basis), overcame a lot of my own insecurities, and found out that a home isn’t always a place, but the company you keep.  Thank you to Middle Earth for three great years, and to Mesa Court for giving me the chance to remove myself from things I had known before and allowing me to step outside of everything, if only for a little while.

Friends: I could write for days about the friends I have made here. But, sadly, I do not have days to write about them–I’d rather be spending time with them.  My experiences throughout my life have been shaped by the friends I have made and kept or fallen out of touch with.  Thank you to my friends that have pushed me out of my comfort zones and pulled up a chair to sit right next to me through it all.  People say a lot about opportunities.  They thank people for opportunities and possibilities that they’ve been given.  But I thank my friends for providing me with the foresight and clarity one needs to even begin to think about opportunities they have.  Thank you for putting up with my second-guessing, my irrational behavior, my food cravings, my shower-singing, and dance parties of one.  Thank you for being there when I need, giving me space when I need, and sticking by me even if I say “you don’t have to”.  I would probably, most likely be a completely incapable person without you all.

UCI: I am so proud to have been able to call you my home for my college career (and beyond).  I cannot imagine a better place to learn, grow, and better myself.  It is so amazing how much a person can begin to love a place.  I thank you for the amazing faculty, students, and professionals you have brought together.  Yes, it’s true that every university has some negatives, and I have surely complained about my fair share of them.  But regardless, I am proud to have been an Anteater, and the opportunities I have been given and taken have changed me for the better. Thank you for giving me encouragement and an environment to develop in.  I can only hope and work hard so that I may one day return as an Anteater as a professor, ready and willing to give back to this community.

 

Much like life, this is a work in progress. Stay tuned, or don’t.  It’s really your decision.