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?
There’s also agender; we refer to them as “them”. They see themselves as existing without gender.
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.
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.
A BAR. NIGHT.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
He leans in throwing caution to the wind this time.
She tilts her head back and guffaws.
He repeats his line, thinking it’ll be funny the second time.
It isn’t, but she stares into his eyes just the same.
Complex everything, this woman. Like a cat.
He looks away with a smirk – she’s into me.
He takes a swig of his scotch, cool like that, and asks for the check, “It’s on me,” he tells her.
Her red, half full.
“You heading out,” she asks.
“I thought we could, uh…” he smirks.
She stares at him. That cat again.
He smiles at her.
“I’m going to finish my wine.”
“Sure. I’ll, uh,” he sits back down.
“Cheers,” she says as she sips her red.
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.
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?”
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.
FADE IN: Anne Ferney (18) and Jaquila Gilmore (16) drinking Dr. Pepper:
A: And that’s when her mom started rattin’ around Wilkinsburg going around to people’s houses, “Is my son here?” I am, like, oh my god, I don’t want ever for our family to experience that. You could see in her face that she was scared.
J: My dad. First, he’s the first one to call me. And then my mom called me. And then my best friend called me and, I didn’t know what happened.
A: The news keeps sayin’ they had an Automatic AK and I’m just thinking it couldn’t be an AK cuz they kept hearin’ the shots go off so you know he kept pulling the trigger.
J: How you actually know that, just blew my mind but OK.
A: It sounds like first person let their clip go and the second person let their clip go. They say eight people got shot. Cuz first on the news they say, “Ok, four people got shot.” The next thing you know five people comin’ up dead. I’m like, yo, they just changed from four people shot, five people shot dead, eight people shot, like. And then they brought the little baby out, like, there was kids in that house. And one of the girls was pregnant. Basically, it was six people that died. If you want to be technical.
J: I don’t know who she is, but she was pregnant and she was shot. I’m like, this is cray-zy. I gotta get out the hood, cuz this is too much.
A: My senior year, I’m tryin’ to go to Florida cuz you can graduate with a trade.
Writing from the car
Sun is shining the weather is sweet (queue music)
I am parked among the wealthy, the exuberant, the luxurious.
Why does this always feel so foreign to me?
Oh, that’s a bigger question for another cocktail.
I have a few minutes, and the only thing I want to do is – touch
Hand to heart
Close my eyes, and
Anchor into me.
Can materialistic overwhelm disconnect you from you?
They say it’s true.
I say that it does.
I find myself unchained and segregated, searching for my anchor.
Physical proof of value and entitlement
The statues, the sprawling greenery, the dream of…
The world loves this shit and I am torn and yet curious by it
Why isn’t it easy?
I look at my basic car
My simple keyboard that connects to my, yes, luxurious phone
I look at my leather bag, authentic jewelry, Nike shoes, American citizenship, and on.
When you look at me, my life is not far off from that.
The abundance I take for granted
I toss to the side as I look for the next
All at once,
Hours of waiting and staring out into the tarmac abyss.
(apparently that gives the brain a break)
My eyes seem to drift into the thoughts and experiences the heart and brain have not processed.
Coffee (which I don’t drink) in hand
Bread (crumbs everywhere) on lap and in mouth
Peanut butter (hard to come by here) wedged between teeth.
I look around at my fellow travelers, and think about my innards.
Body rested and yet tired, all at once.
Funny how duplicitous life can be.
I yawn, my eyes like oil paint.
What does it mean to get to know a country?
Is it the food, gifts, tour guides and destinations?
Is it spending quality time with the locals?
Sitting in a park, map and camera away, and observing?
Is it – click! – social updates of Look at me! moments?
Can you say you’ve had your fill?
These worldly experiences speed past like the abruptness of an alarm.
And do you return?
Vidal, our driver, asks us as we approach the Departures zone.
Please say you have,
It’s a long way back.