Money

My current stream of consciousness is kind of all over the place, but bear with me.

I am not a woman of money. I don’t know what it will look like if and when I finish school this coming May, but I don’t expect a lot of money. I actually am not sure what to expect, but I am hoping that it will be something decent, something worthwhile. I know I didn’t go into this profession thinking I’d be raking it in, but I am hoping that it will be sufficient, enough to keep me happy and sane and just enough to get me out of this house. The hard part is that I like nice things and nice food and often times, these things and foods come with a higher price than I should probably indulge in. But that’s okay. Sometimes that’s what rainy days are for, that’s what saving is for. But at the end of the day, these nicer things and nicer foods aren’t the things that make me happy.

My parents did a lot of things for me as a kid. They shielded and sheltered me. While some can argue that wasn’t great, but at the same time, they gave me something that I don’t think I could have gotten otherwise: a childhood filled with friends and memories. I never felt poor or low-income. I felt happy. While I didn’t think we were rich or raking in the dough, I knew that we were okay. I knew that I had friends and a family and despite how much I hated some of their authority and decisions for me, I loved them anyway. They taught me that at the end of the day, a few pennies are just a few pennies, but a family can’t be replaced. They taught me that money will come and go, but it’s not important to have the “finer” things in life because I already have them. My parents, or more specifically, my father, didn’t want me to worry about the things that didn’t matter like money so I could go live life and be a kid. My father made it possible for me to not depend on money, to see it as a necessity to live.

Yes, maybe I wasn’t able to fully learn the value of money in that way, I learned something better. I don’t need a lot to make me happy, but the little things. While I may be slightly unhappy now with a mother who is nuts, but set that aside, I am happy. Sure, I like fancy foods, fancy things, but I can live without those. Give me a decent living space and people in my life who matter and I will be happy.

I don’t need much and that’s okay. It’s what the East Side taught me and even though it becomes a smaller and smaller part of my existence, it will remain a big part of me.

No Fears

I was at a dinner party the other day and we were asked a really nice icebreaker-style question: What would you do if you had no fear? Unfortunately, I was told to give a superficial answer so I said that I wanted to drive a monster truck so I could go over all the people who get in my way while driving. Slightly dark, but whatever. It was the best superficial thing I could think of at the time.

What I had originally wanted to say was to love. To love someone fully, without reservations, without insecurities, without fear. To feel like I felt when I was a teenager – just love freely and truly feel as if I could jump in head first, feet first, body first into someone and just be free. Now the relationships are full of apprehension, fears, reluctance. Will this person hurt me? Will I allow myself to be hurt? Will this person still love me if that person knows everything there is to know about me? All of those fears, would be gone and to feel that true moment of happiness, to know that the person you are with will love you no matter what? That is love. That is love without fear and if I were to ever get married someday, that would be the question I’d ask myself:

Can I love this person without any fears?

If that answer is yes, then my answer will be yes to any proposal that comes my way from that person. Whoever he may be.

House is not a Home

I feel like this is a recurring mantra and more specifically, to a specific house.

Earlier this week, we had an in-class exercise. We needed to talk with another person about something that bothered us, something small. I picked the weather and how cold it was. Somehow, during that talk, it lead to my discovery that while I dislike the cold, I dislike the fact that I am cold and freezing in my own house and how that is a product of a specific person in that house: mother.

I don’t know how many people truly understand how much I detest mother. Her interests are backwards and wayward. I could relay all of the despicable things she does, but I don’t want to be that person. Just trust me – she’s terrible.

I’ve been thinking about it more today and since Monday. Have I ever felt at home in this house? Have I ever felt truly comfortable? To be honest? I don’t think so. Our house is practically its own apartment home. There is a lady who lives in our garage. There is a man who lives in the room adjacent to mine. I know none of these people. About two months ago, she decided to let her friend live in our shed. Yes, the shed. The shed that still has all of our stuff in it.

This house is crowded in terms of its occupants and also things. I just want to take a week and go through everything in this house, toss the things we don’t need and the things that she says she’ll “use one day” but hasn’t in the last decade. There are so many things and I just don’t understand their purpose. Everything is a mess. Everything is dirty. Nothing is clean.

I don’t feel at ease in my own home. During this winter frost, I have to use two heaters because a spike in the electric bill is more desirable than a spike in the gas bill. Because the solution to my problem is just to layer up, not make sure the house is a comfortable temperature.

This is not a home. It’s a living space. It is my temporary stop until I can leave this godforsaken hell hole. I want to be able to place things down and not worry that someone will move it, or “clean” things up without knowing what needs to be clean. I want to be able to throw old expired food out and not have to worry about keeping it a secret. I want to be able to eat my bambu and throw it away in the kitchen trash, not my own, because if I throw it in the kitchen trash, rest assured, that cup will be “saved” and put to another use.

I just want to be comfortable. In my own space. In my own “home.”

And while I should probably stay on topic, I’m not. What I also want? To be able to say these things freely without having someone else minimize how I feel. Yes, there are dying children in another areas. There are children on the streets. My problems are #firstworldproblems, but they are mine. This is how I feel and that is important, no matter how trivial. I get to be in that space and I get to have people listen to it and sympathize. I don’t want to be compared. I don’t want to be told that my problems are nothing and that I need to be grateful for what I have. I may be more vocal about my complaints than I am about my blessings, but it doesn’t mean I don’t feel blessed everyday to have what I have. But in that moment when I am feeling like it’s been a crap week, I just need someone to listen and not judge how I feel.

I need to move out. Soon. Probably before I kill someone. Or hurt someone. #angerissues.

Jaded

In the last 24 hours, and I suppose in general, I have been feeling really awful about the internet. It’s like a gun – it can be used for good, but so many people use it for bad. How can you justify its existence?

More specifically, what’s set off my mood was an incident that spurred yesterday in the internet world. A woman posted her opinion, comedic/satirical or not, about a recent celebrity death. So many comments spurred from it, mostly about hate. Most of them wished she or someone she loved would die, that karma would come back to her, that she was a cunt/slut/whore/bitch who deserved all most awful things to happen to her because she publicly stated her opinion. While I don’t agree nor think her public opinions were necessarily appropriate for such a forum, I don’t think she deserved all the hate she got. I don’t know why she wrote it, why she published it – that’s between herself and her therapist if she has one. What really upsets me the most was that all these people were bullies. Giant, big ass bullies. That’s what sickens me, that people feel so entitled, so “courageous” when they sit behind their screens, typing away without any repercussions to what they say. Would these people say this in front of a stranger on the street? Would these people want someone else to say it to their loved ones? Why do we have to wish such ill on people? It’s awful; it’s sickening.

Then today, I ran across a video. It was in response to a charity video in which three men went around town asking relatively attractive women if they could motorboat them for charity. For each set of boobs they’d motorboat, a certain amount of money would be donated to breast cancer research. I found the video and the “charity act” despicable myself, but I brushed it off and moved on with my life. I read today that they tried to donate the money to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation but their donation was refunded. I agree with the foundation’s decision to return the money as their method of raising donations wasn’t necessarily appropriate nor empowering of women, but many didn’t. Comments said that it was women’s fault and so on and so forth. Other nasty comments ensued. While there were no death threats in this, it was just disheartening to read some of them.

I get that people are ignorant. I get that people have their biases and will act prejudiced in response to these biases. But it doesn’t make sense to me why people need to be awful. Why people can’t, for a second, think otherwise about certain situations. There are always two sides to a story and at the end of the day, can’t we be nice to one another? Maybe I’m too Utopian. Maybe it’s ironic for me to say this when I scream at dumb drivers all the time. But still. I just want the bullying to stop. I want the ignorant comments to stop. I want to stop worrying every time a person of color or a woman does something amazing/wrong¬†and read the backlash about it. Can’t it all just stop?

What’s Next?

Maybe I shouldn’t be writing as I’m currently hopped up on caffeine at… 12am in the morning. Maybe I don’t even know what I’m writing. I’ve been on a Grey’s Anatomy marathon, just wanting to watch from the beginning, mostly because it’s on Netflix and mostly because the holiday season is coming around and TV is getting boring and lame as they go on break.

Anyway, the beginning of series has the original cast, some of which don’t make it, some who leave. There’s only a handful of people who’ve lasted all ten seasons of the show and it’s surprising to see how people have started and where they started. The most interesting of all is the epic love story that happens during the series. To see all of their complications, fights, etc. It makes me wonder if love should be that difficult or is it just drama? How much of our ideas of love are shaped by the media? Or is it on what we see in life? If I had to base my ideas of love in life, I don’t have much to go on.

One relationship was marred by a partner who was not very inconsiderate and not very willing to change her behavior and for whatever reason, ended. One relationship survived the tests of time and distance, proving that no matter when your “celebration of love” happens, it doesn’t mean that your relationship needs to have a time limit of when it moves to the next level. Many people have been on my case about that next level. When will it move? How long will I wait? And I wonder, what is the rush? What is a few years in comparison to the rest of my life? And to be honest, I don’t even feel ready for this next level to begin with. I have my own reservations and hesitations about what my life will look like after May. There are doubts about if I’ll make it to May, if my own anxieties will get in the way of my success in May.

I will make it. I have to make it. There is no option to do otherwise.

After that, we’ll see how I feel about this “next level” stuff. But for now, I Just want the questions to stop. But you try telling all your family that. -_-

Support

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn in the past few years is how to be of support to someone I love, to someone I care about. We have automatic tendencies to give advice, to say something of use to another person, but sometimes, that’s just not what the person wants or needs to hear.

I remember hearing of a poem and since then, I have kept it in my mind ever since. It is hard for me, for us, to just listen. To be able to sit in the other person’s pain and not want to remedy or alleviate. But it’s important to sit, to share in, to feel what that person is going through.

This was evident during the summer and following up to last night. Partner was struggling, consumed with anxiety and fear and it was so hard for me to resist comfort. While I failed here and there, I had to learn how to say different things. Instead of trying to reassure and tell him that he would do fine, I had to say that I would be there for him despite whatever outcomes may have arisen. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all, maybe I should have.

A few weeks ago, a friend shared difficulties with her partner, about what he was going through and how difficult it was for her to be witness to that. I remember suggesting to her that she check in with the therapist he was going to see, to ask the therapist how she could be of support to him. I have remembered that since because it reminded me of how I should react and also what I need to suggest to my clients. Granted, in that latter position, I actually get to provide the suggestions, but it’s a reminder to the kids and the families I work with that yes, while the kid is the one coming to therapy, in reality, it’s all of them. All key players are a part of that child’s life and how can we all be a team and learn to support what that kid’s needs are?

It’s hard. It’s hard to just listen, to do nothing more than listen. I am still struggling with it. It’s a fine line to cross – at which point is someone asking for advice and at which point is someone not? Is the question implied? Or is a disclaimer needed? What I do know is that I need to be more mindful of when that occurs and truly strive to be as supportive as I can.

Partners

Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes people last, what makes people compatible with one another. What is the secret ingredient to long-lasting love and a half-century of happiness together?

My parents split up a few years ago, yet they carry on as if nothing really changed. Daddy comes home for dinner and they both sit on the couch to watch Vietnamese dramas. Next week, they’re going on a cruise together. While I have gotten over the shock of their split, I wonder why they did it in the first place if they are still doing things together, still seeing each other, still acting like companions with one another. Their relationship confuses me; divorce should mean that while they can still be friendly and civil with one another, in a sense, they should be apart. They should spend less time with each other and considering I’m the only child left in the house and I already know about the split, it’s not as if they need to keep up the pretense.

I was trying to think about the type of relationship that you need to have with your partner in order to make it work. How vulnerable can you be? Should this other person be someone with whom you can be your most vulnerable and still feel supported? Can there really be a “no secrets” relationship? Can this person still love me despite the darkest moments of my life? Is this person willing to do the same? To share their inner darknesses with me, to be vulnerable with me, to allow me to nurture their pain?

Is it bigger than vulnerability? Is it trust? Love? Compatibility? Companionship? All of the above and more? Does the relationship work because you make each other happy? Or because you are two individuals who have found another outlet of support and really enjoy each other’s support? Is it a “needs” relationship – I need you; you need me? Or is it – I don’t need you to function and survive in life, but I really, really, really, really like that you are in my life?

What do I want? What am I looking for? What are the qualities of a relationship that I am willing and not willing to negotiate? What is important to me? And are my needs compatible with his?

Colors

I recently watched some Upworthy video of a diversity class in which the facilitator (not teacher, facilitator) reprimanded a presumably White girl for being racist, for not understanding that people of color don’t get to “leave the room” when they are tired of being prejudiced against. While I could easily rally with the facilitator and do my own snaps, at the same time, I wonder if I could be doing the same, especially when I am in my own comfort zone.

A few weeks ago, I called someone out for being White (presumably). I was trying to make a remark and I said, “No offense,” to the only other White person at the table and said my piece. As soon as it came out of my mouth, I knew it was wrong. I knew that I had done what I wouldn’t have wanted someone else to do to me and I later apologized to her for my stupid comments.

A few days ago, I attended a wedding of a friend/acquaintance. I was more of a +1 (for once!), but that’s beside the point. At almost every instance in my own recollection of the very beautiful, very loving and also very amazing wedding, I wouldn’t hesitate to point out the fact that my partner and I were “ethnic outsiders,” that the wedding was not my own style and how it was a reflection of the couple’s (ethnic) culture. While these misguided comments took me longer to realize, I have now come to understand that my thoughts were no worse than the ones I call perpetrators. If I were to host my own celebration of love someday (FAR FAR AWAY), I wouldn’t want someone to make comments about how “Vietnamese” it is, or to show that they felt out of place, because at the end of the day, it is a celebration, no matter the custom, no matter the traditions, no matter the “style” in which the couple whose families are joining decide to do it in.

I realize now it was wrong of me. It’s not okay for me to make my own prejudices, my own judgments on things unlike that of my own. It’s so interesting – here I am trying to fight the fight, but I forget to realize there’s still a fight in me I must battle. I am not immune to being racist. I am not immune to having prejudiced thoughts. I am not immune to behaviors that indicate that I am both. But I can change the way I respond to others outside of my own comfort zone.