Random Saturdays – Hood Gratitude

For most of my teens and early 20s, I really resented my childhood and the way my parents chose to raise me.  I resented that I didn’t grow up in a sitcom where every problem could be solved in 30 minutes or less.  I resented that I didn’t even live in a family where I knew I’d see both of my parents every day, maybe share a meal with them or have a conversation about how our days went.  As an adult, I’m thankful for my childhood and for having weird parents because everything else in life seems so much easier now.

A few weeks ago, there was a pretty big storm.  That night, I came home to a blackout.  Once I got into the apartment, I lit the giant candle that I keep on the stove for power outages.  My iPhone was dying , and had I realized I would be coming home to a power outage, I would have charged it on the drive home.  However, I was issued a new Droid phone at work that day and had just charged it.  I was thankful that I still had a way to call the power company to make sure the outage was reported and to check on how long it was estimated to last.  I also used some battery power to send a tweet:

Oncor already knew about the outage and estimated it would be fixed by 2 am.  It was just after 10 pm at that point, so, I decided it was The Universe’s way of telling me to chill out and go to bed early because I hadn’t gotten much sleep that week.  I had tortilla chips and frosted cornflakes from the pantry and got ready for bed.  So, I took a very quick shower by candlelight and laid down in bed.  Then, I heard a soft rustling noise.  I hoped that it was just Elska in the other room, but I knew it was a big roach (we call ’em “waterbugs” in the South) walking on paper.  Normally, I just vacuum up waterbugs, and then vacuum the entire apartment, hoping to smother it in dust and pet dander.  No power meant no vacuum.  I lit my power outage candle again and got out of bed to look in a paper bag by my bed where I suspected the roach was.  I didn’t see anything in the bag and the noise had stopped, but I kept looking.  Then, I felt something under my foot…

UGHAHARGHUHEWWAURGH!!!
(Gif Credit: http://mygifdump.tumblr.com/post/35296151766)

I’m pretty sure I called the roach a GD em effer as I ran to the bathroom.  I knew I had to act fast, so I got a wad of toilet paper.  Then, I got a bigger wad of toilet paper.  After flushing the bug down the toilet, I washed my foot and rubbed it with anti-bacterial stuffs.  I had the heebie jeebies, but I was pretty proud of myself because  I’d never “directly” grabbed a roach like that before.  I went to bed, feeling accomplished and began to mentally list the reasons why the the day had been good.

I began thinking about how I did most of what I did during the blackout on autopilot because I was used to it growing up.  Whether it was because of a storm or because someone forgot to pay the electric bill or because we couldn’t afford to pay the electric bill, I knew what to do and what not to do during a blackout.  As a kid, the electricity always seemed to go out right when I was taking a bath.  My dad would bring a candle or flashlight to me and would stand outside of the door while I finished rinsing off because I was afraid of the dark (well, not so much the dark as ghosts;  we lived in a haunted house).  I’d finish my bath and my dad would remind me that we have to worry more about living people than dead people and everything would be okay.  If my mom was home, we would all sit around, talking in the candlelight for awhile.  Sometimes, my dad would play his acoustic guitar and that would sooth all of us.  When I was ready for bed, my parents would tuck me in, making sure that I felt safe in the dark.  They’d even leave a candle burning for me so I could fall asleep.  I was reminiscing about all of this when I heard the click that meant that the power was now working.  It was 12 am, two hours before the estimated return to service time.  I continued to lay in bed, mentally listing good things about my life until I fell asleep.

Random Saturdays — A Coming of Race Story (pt 2)

This is a continuation of a previous post.

The final blow came about a year later, in the first grade. I lived across the street from some crappy kids whose mom married a younger man and relied on the housekeeper to raise her kids. Her youngest daughter, Tricia, was a bitch. Flat out. No better word for it. (Shut up. You didn’t know her.) I was standing on the curb in front of my house and she was standing on the curb in front of her house. I don’t remember what happened beforehand, but I remember her yelling, “Go back to where you came from, Chink!” I yelled back, “I’m not a Chink! Go back to your house where you came from and learn about different races, stupid!” She kept trying to convince me that I was a Chink and I kept yelling all of the reasons why she was mistaken.

I went inside before my dad even turned the porch light on that night. I told my dad what happened and he assured me that Tricia was a racist little bitch just like her trashy mother. Then, he told me that while I was not a Chink, I was Chinese.

Me — I thought I was Filipina and German.
Dad — You are, but your mom’s mom was Chinese and her dad was Spanish . Your Granddad (my dad’s dad) is German and Cherokee Indian and your Grandma (my dad’s mom) is Italian, Irish, and Scottish.

I remember thinking, “Oh, so I guess this means that I’m not Black.” it was a sobering thought. Black people do so much cool stuff! They dance and sing and tell good jokes and run and play basketball and use hair picks. I couldn’t think of a single thing that an Italian-Irish-Cherokee-German-Filipina-Chinese-Spanish girl was supposed to do. Plus, where the heck was I supposed to go when people told me, “Go back to where you came from!”

Years later I found out that my mom’s dad was Malaysian, but did speak Spanish. The Christmas before she passed away, Grandma told me that she was Italian and Irish and that Granddad had a great-uncle somwhere along the lines who married a Cherokee woman. This meant that I was Chinese, Filipina, Malaysian, German, Italian, and Irish. My dad’s newest thing is trying to convince me that we’re also part Welsh. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I am no longer accepting additional ethnicities into my definition of self without DNA evidence. Although, when my dad married my step-mom, I did start telling everyone that I was finally Black.

I drew this my junior year in HS from a photo of myself at about age two. Look how Black I was as a child.  The jacked up facial features were due to my subconscious mind's continuous attempt to process my non-Black-multi-racial heritage and had nothing to do with my lack of skill with chalk pastels.

I drew this my junior year in HS from a photo of myself at about age two. Look how Black I was as a child. The jacked up facial features were due to my subconscious mind’s continuous attempt to process my non-Black-multi-racial heritage and had nothing to do with my lack of skill with chalk pastels.

Even though I’m not Black, I don’t want anybody to pity me. I’ve still managed to have an okay life. I’ve never been able to do any of the cool things that Black people can do, but I can’t do any of the cool things that any people can do. So I’m non-discriminatorily untalented, which I think is PC of me. By “PC”, I do mean “pretty cool”. Even though I look Hispanic, talk White, am Asian, and wish I were Black, I’m not enough of any of those things to be readily accepted by any group of people on a purely superficial basis. However, it gives me the opportunity to say things that often cause race riots. You know how when most people say something, it’s just wrong, but when other people say it, it’s alright? Well, I’m Other People. I am mostly alright with that, honeychil’.

Random Saturdays — A Coming of Race Story (pt 1)

I recently read How to Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston.  I first heard of the book on NPR last year, and knew that I had to read it to make sure it was accurate.  I consider myself an expert on being Black because I’ve always wished that I were Black.  I remember the disappointment I felt as a kid when my dad informed me that I wasn’t Black.  I knew that my mom was Asian and my dad was White, but why couldn’t I be Black?  There’s where your family is from, and then there’s who you are.  You get to choose who you are.  So why couldn’t I be Black?

A better question might be how I got it in my head that I was Black.  If you think back to when you were a kid, you’ll remember that your world was very small and personal.  You had strange filters and hadn’t been conditioned to think that you might have to adjust your filters according to those of others.  This is why I like kids — I like hearing their interpretations of the world around them (except for these kids).

My early childhood consisted of a dad who played guitar and taught me about music legends like Jimi Hendrix and Robert Johnson.  So, after spending the first five years of my life in his music room, listening to an endless loop of Black musicians and having my dad tell me, “Girl, you got soul!” when I started singing along to songs about big legged women, why wouldn’t I think that I was Black?  I would have been stupid not to think that.  It was logic, pure and simple.

When I started kindergarten, I befriended a girl (who happened to be Black) named Money (pronounced MOH-nay) who lived up the street from me.  We didn’t have the same teacher, but were in the same grade.  Our moms played bingo together.  It was good times all around.  One day, Money called me on the phone.  I was so excited about my first phone call from a friend that wasn’t my mom or dad!  (Still am.)  I was also a bit nervous because I didn’t know what people really talked about on the phone.  (Still don’t.)  Once I got on the  phone, though, my fears immediately dissipated.  I remember part of the conversation going something like this:

Money — Honeychil’, you know that li’l boy So-and-so?
Me — Girl, who don’t know him?  He always pullin’ on people’s hair!
Money — Mmm hmm.  Well, that fool pulled on my braid so hard today that I slapped him.
Me — Ooh, girl!  No!
Money — I sho did!
Me — That fool deserved it!
Money — That’s what I said!  Alright, honeychil’, I’mma let you go.
Me — Alright, bye honeychil’.

My dad stood by and listened to the entire conversation, smiling and shaking his head.  When I hung up the phone, he said, “That was really cute.  You sounded like a little Black girl.”

AWHHAAAAAATTTTTTT????????

Did he just say that I sounded LIKE a little Black girl?  That implies that I’m NOT a little Black girl.  The world began moving in slow motion.  Up was down.  Down was up.  I had to re-evaluate the past five years of my life, only three of which I remembered at all.  Oh, look at how shiny the lightbulb is!  “Daddy, I’m hungry.”

To be continued…

Pimp It Mondays – Teresa’s Twelve Posts of Christmas

Mondays are going to be my day to pimp out my friends (or anyone/anything else that I like) in a very non-pay-the-rent way.  In my first post, I mentioned my friend, Teresa.  She’s currently doing a Twelve Posts of Christmas feature on her blog.  Her first post really grossed me out, but also really made me laugh.  She wrote about how eating boogers sort of became her thing and defined the person that she is today in a very roundabout way.  To my knowledge, she’s no longer a booger-eater, although I think she does like beets.

Another friend of mine who likes beets.  Why come I attract all the weirdos?

Another friend of mine who likes beets. Why come I attract all the weirdos?

We all have gross-out stories from our childhoods that are funny as crap now that we’re adults.  It’s these stories that you tell to others so that they can reply, “Ohhhhh,” as in, “Ohhhhh, that’s why you’re such a weirdo.”  It’s like it restores people’s faith in a logical world.  Weirdos don’t happen randomly.  No, my friends, they are made.  They are made through a combination of hardwork, dysfunction, and grossness.  Finding the delicate balance between these three things is what determines if you’ll end up being a blogging sensation that’s sweeping the nation or a serial killer.  Every now and then you really screw things up and end up with someone like Psy, but I’m sure he’ll be okay in the long run if he invests well now.

I was a pretty gross kid because, you know, I was a kid.  Since my mom grew up in the Philippines, she made me eat things on a daily basis that she insisted were food even if the other kids in the neighborhood insisted that she was a filthy liar.  All the kids who made fun of me then have now decided that the gross foods are culinarily adventurous.  I’m pretty sure the neighborhood kids thought I was going to go the One Hit Wonder route, but instead, I grew up to be a very boring adult.  I have also steered clear of boogers for a good two or three years now, but I will never like beets.