breathe it in

breathe it in

FADE IN:

My first experience with Magic was when I was 8 years old.
My mom took us to the desert. It was hot and uncomfortable. I hated it. I complained all day – I want to go home already.
We pitched our tents and mom warmed up some ham, pineapple n’ cheese sandwiches. I had been waiting all day – God, those things are deliciously good, especially how mom toasts them.
The sun descends and night rises.
I had escaped into yet another Sweet Valley High novel; in the background, the sound of my brothers playing near the campfire.
At some point, I looked up to the smell of bread toasting and ham sizzling.
And I nearly lost my shit.
There in front of me, all around me, were a million stars. A gazillion of them.
Mom must’ve clocked my surprise cuz she says, “Put your book down and breathe it in.”

You know that song by Coldplay? Look at the stars, look how they shine for you?
One of my favorite songs.
When that song plays, I often think about that moment in the desert; book in hand, ham sizzling, brothers laughing, and pure Magic painted across the sky.
Speechless, humbling Magic right above us.
That was the first time I was certain there was a God.

FADE OUT.

them/id

FADE IN: two men.

And then I would be a cis hetero male.

What does that mean?

I am a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth, align.

So, no more calling yourself straight guy?

Nope.

There’s also agender; we refer to them as “them”. They see themselves as existing without gender.

Gotcha.

And we have a queer and a couple of lesbians.

Gone are the days when I used to say, “we’re here, we’re queer, let’s go have a beer.”

Yeah, you can’t say that anymore cuz you’re not queer and you’re making a joke at the expense of a queer.

But I’m not, really.

No, I get it, it’s just times are changing.

Right.

FADE OUT.

5 days

5 days

FADE IN: two women sit facing the ocean.

It was 5 days of hell. You don’t even know. And we’re not even completely out of it yet. I can never tell anyone what we’ve done. I mean, this is unorthodox in America. Oh, it kills me. We’ve had to endure this alone, not even my mother wanted a part of it. Listening to him ugly cry for up to 40 minutes before we could intervene – it sounds like I’m torturing my child, but believe me there’s a method to the madness. Five days and then he finally slept through the night. I wanted to run in and stop this, smother him with all my love, but that would push us back to square one. I don’t even know if I’m doing the right thing. I blamed that Nazi sleep trainer every day. But I did what she asked. God, she’s tough.

She had to be or you wouldn’t get through it.

I think she’s Argentinian but she has a German accent, I swear she does. She was relentless and so unempathetic. But her methods worked. Five days and now he sleeps 12 hours straight.

And how’s he doing?

Great! So much better. He’s so happy now and energized when he’s awake.

He was so cranky at first —

— Yeah, that’s cuz he wasn’t sleeping. We both weren’t.

He’s a trouper.

You know, this experience has shaken me. If it took him 5 days to completely rearrange a structure that was in place since birth; five days to change his life and he did it? Imagine what we’re capable of. If we only just commit. This little boy is an example that there really is no excuses.

Yup. Can you sleep through the night?

Not yet. I’m still worried I’ve done something wrong. I hope that changes..

FADE OUT.

don’t make me tell you twice

don't make me tell you twice
FADE IN:

I can’t hardly sleep no more. I useta be able to leave the TV on for hours, and not hear a peep.
Life man, it’s exhausting, and then I can’t sleep.
I got a new home now, a kid. A kid, man!
A kid that –
Listen, the other day he came over to me and said, “For Christmas, I want an X-Box One X. Don’t make me tell you twice.”
I was like, “Ok, fool, whatever.”
A few minutes later, he comes back to me, “Dad, don’t forget I want an X-Box One X for Christmas. Don’t make me tell you twice.”
At this point, I’m like, “Why you tellin’ me twice then?”
And then it dawned on me, this kid doesn’t understand what that phrase means.
So, I explain it to him.
He looks at me and says, “You always saying it at the end of your sentences, and you’re always saying it mad-like.”

That’s a mirror to my fuckin’ face.
Fuckin’ kids.
They’re watching us too much.

FADE OUT.

not my girls

not my girls.jpg

FADE IN: masseuse at work. 

I don’t know who started it but I don’t like it (she laughs).

Why doesn’t the man take on a married name like the woman does? Women have been branded like a cow (she laughs). You say, “Oh, hi Mr. Smith,” and you have no idea if he’s married or not. How many married men actually wear their rings? I see women proud to sport around a big rock on their finger, but men? (she laughs).
These are old social habits that we accept as the normal. I want to know who made these things up? Do you know who? (she laughs).

Haha, it’s our culture.

Yes, but no. I do not agree and I will not allow it. Not in my home and not with my girls. My girls are going to know independence. They see their mom working a full-time job, going to school, putting her own money in the bank. My girls know that a woman does not need to rely on anyone but herself. No rock will make them feel powerful. Education, confidence, intelligence, virtue, yes, those things will make them feel proud. And my girls are beautiful – half Russian, half Thai. Oh my goodness, I have a big road ahead of me (she laughs). No, they will not be dumb girls. I am a fantastic mother, and student and daughter and friend. Yes, I have my husband but we are two independent people, we are equals. I like it like that, and I am setting an example for my girls.

FADE OUT.

sucks the air thin

sucks the air thin

There’s a silence that’s almost deafening.
The kind where, at a party, the music stops and everyone looks up and says to no one, “Hey, what happened?”
The kind that the body shutters from its piercing.
A Void.

I was turning 16. I wanted a big party; bodyguards, a live band, DJ, pay at the door, the whole shebang. I worked hard; I got my artistic sister to create the flyer, gave them out at my and my brother’s schools. A week before, everyone was talking about it, the word spread quick. The band was known enough to build a crowd, I was in love with the drummer who should’ve been the lead singer he was that eccentric.

I rented a trophy room off a big sports facility, facing a big oval where my brother’s school played footy. The party drew a huge crowd, a long line waited around the bend even until 11pm, an hour before close. I was shocked. I barely knew anyone, and when I did, they were intoxicated and in the throes of what it took to be a teenager at a party in the 90s.

Flash forward to afterward. Mum, bro and sis, and my best friends, with black trash bags and rubber gloves, helped me clean up the evidence. Well, enough to get our safety deposit back.

I must’ve sat down somewhere, took it all in. I hope I did. I’m hoping I popped a squat facing the oval of lush greenery and tsunamic eucalyptus trees. Muscles spent and feet regaining circulation from improper use of heels. A mix of pride and exhaustion. A mix of elation and isolation.

And then silence.
The Void.

How it sucks the air thin.

god created the delete button

402720961-delete-wallpapers.jpg

Name: Christina A.
Occupation: Retirement Consultant.
Location: Glendale, CA.

I never thought to ask for a raise until I was in my 40s. It blows my mind cuz I gave 12 years of my life to that company. I learned a lot, don’t get me wrong; I’m still using some of those skills in my work today.
But yeah.
When I finally did a money awareness course, it dawned on me like a piano dropped on my head, that I had some major issues around money.
To begin, my family never spoke about money.
I mean, are you kidding me?
My father, may he rest in peace, had his some heavy shit around money.
I remember this one time when I asked him how much he made –
I mean, I might’ve just said, “How many times do you masturbate a week?”
His look.
[she laughs]
He never answered me.
In my family, we never spoke about 2 things: sex and money – and we would probably speak first about sex before money.
In the early days of my company, I would write “Maybe you could send me the money you owe me / your invoice has been probably overdue by 30 days, blah blah.
Maybe, can I please, do you mind, that kinda shit.
To this day sometimes I catch myself writing those words.
But God created the delete button, and damn am I grateful.