I once read in, I think, Reader’s Digest, that laughter is the best medicine. But then one day I quoted it to one of my friends in college during my depression phase when he didn’t know I was depressed and he responded with, “but nobody here is sick.” He caught me off guard so I agreed without thinking and when he looked into my eyes I think he could tell there was something more going on with me than I was letting on. He frowned in recognition of my pain and mental self-torture. For a split second when my friend could see right through me like that all I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs, like that would solve every problem going on in my head, fictional or real. I didn’t scream, but I really wanted to. Yet, for that split second, having that understanding was the only medicine I needed. My friend didn’t know it at the time, but I realized in that moment that while laughter is a great form of medicine, sometimes comfort is the best.
Black birds like to wait for the rain to go foraging for worms in the grass. They go when it’s falling and right after it stops. That’s the best time to see them act territorial or I would have never guessed they are like that. Each one claims their own grassy area and when another black bird gets too close, the first one chases the second one away.
Worms come up out of the ground, ready to escape the water that is drowning them. That’s when they go out of the frying pan into the fire, right into a black bird’s beak. The little goslings are out now too. I can see families of four goslings or eight swim together, one adult parent goose on each end. Geese honk at each other and chase each other away. Even though they are upset with each other, I think that’s their way of having fun in the sun. They are territorial as well, maybe even more so than the black birds. But I am not an ornithologist. I don’t know for sure.
The heron creeps along like an old man (no offense to anyone reading this that is actually an old man, I don’t mean it in any negative way, just as a description) and fishes in the pond. It’s like a pickaxe in the way it hunts. Meanwhile, hawks fly way above, searching for prey. Life goes on as per usual for these birds because they know not of this diabolical virus even though it can spread from animal to animal and from humans to animals and from animals to humans. Ignorance is truly bliss.
I have not felt more at home than I did this past weekend during YALLSTAYHOME. It is normally called YALLWest and would have taken place at Santa Monica, but due to the coronavirus, it became YALLSTAYHOME in the format of several consecutive Zoom meetings. Attendees could pick and register for the specific meeting they wanted to attend and registration could include entering to win some of the fun book giveaways if so desired. YALLWest is the sister festival to YALLFest and both festivals are celebrations of the reading and writing world, with a focus on YA authors. I registered for as many panels I was interested in, but due to my schedule, I was not able to attend all the ones I registered for. However, cross my fingers that because I registered, later I will get a link to each recorded session. Hoping for the best here, guys!
Anyway, the whole festival ran from Friday, April 24 – Sunday, April 26 and here are the panels I registered for: Fierce Friday: Create Your Own Fantasy Story, I Read YA@Home, Opening Ceremony + Keynote, Creativity in the Time of Corona, Modern Magic Worldbuilding, This American Experience, PM Keynote with Brandon Sanderson, YALLSTAYHOME Smackdown, Suckage is Part of Writing, Remember High School?, and Writing Empathy. There were so many others as well that I did not register for just because I did not have room in my schedule! There were so many authors there including Marie Lu, Julie Buxbaum, Leah Johnson, Marisa Kanter, Bill Konigsberg, Alex London, Samuel Miller, Zan Romanoff, Tara Sim, Angie Thomas, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and F.C. Yee.
I have got to say, I want to read all of their books!! And…I felt like Belle when she opens her eyes for the first time inside Beast’s library. With each panel I learned all about each author’s background and writing journey and in the case of Brandon Sanderson, got to meet his pet macaw as well. With each panel I learned the struggle is real during this pandemic. Many authors feel that it is harder to write staying inside all the time. I learned stuff like you can build a world based off of your main character’s needs and it’s important to write your truth and teens go to novels as a form of escape, some making more friends with the characters in the books than in real life and there is a now a lot more representation from Asian authors to Muslim authors to queer authors to biracial authors. A lot of times someone becomes an author because they weren’t reading books with their race or culture represented, so they became the first to write that representation. That is awesome!
It was also awesome to finally experience the Smackdown. I had read about it beforehand and I really looked forward to it. The Smackdown did not disappoint: Dumbledope and Snape Dog were there for starters, and it kicked off with a Cards Against Humanity type of game and I only just learned how to play this game a couple months ago, pre-coronavirus and a Harry Potter version, no less. Let me tell you there is nothing more LOL than this game. There was another segment a lot like MTV Cribs and then a Pet Roast and finally a dance party at the end. Once coronavirus is over this festival is definitely on my top ten list of places want to go to for real.
Finally, noticing there are a lot more Asian authors out there now made me feel comforted and happy and giddy. I seriously could not stop smiling. Then I noticed how welcoming and inviting and safe these panels were. It didn’t matter what someone’s background was, everyone was open to listening to everyone’s stories and where they came from and how they got into writing. I realized writing = life. There’s going to be racism, suicide, queer life, privileged life, and everything else in between in stories and everyone accepts this as is. Many of the authors mentioned inspiration can come from anywhere and even talked about how writing can get so hard sometimes you end up playing a video game instead of writing sometimes. I could not agree more. I love how relatable each of the panels were and I truly felt right at home. I left the festival with a feeling I’ve known all along and just needed a little reminder: This, reading and writing and talking about reading and writing until the cows come home, is the community I belong in.
Audits. Now there’s a fun word. It’ll set people off like insane overtime the first three months or so of the year for some. That being said, I’m sure many companies require employees to take annual tests that they have to pass to be fully aware of all the companies’ policies, procedures, protocols, and the like, like security training and what have you to be able to stay in business. But all trigger words aside, this workweek I took a security training on phishing, malware, passwords, WiFi security, and the like and it made me think about all the hackers and launderers out there who find it their right to take other people’s hard-earned living right out of their bank accounts. If you have that kind of brain and time on your hands, you have that kind of time to work for your own hard-earned living at something that’s actually legal. Hmph.
It must go back to society’s love for instant gratification. There’s a nod to all the kids who liked to cheat on tests. Why do all the hard work of studying night after night for two whole weeks when you can just show up on the day of the test and copy off of the genius next to you? We have instant noodles with 1,000% sodium because why would you want to go through all the trouble of collecting ingredients, chopping, dicing, spicing and putting all raw edibles into a pot or wok and turn on the stove and cook something that is fresh, to your taste, and not about to cause hypertension or clog your arteries? All for the love of instant gratification. I think the only thing people don’t want instant gratification for is playing video games. What’s the fun in starting a game expecting to encounter dragons and collecting coins and having only three lives and getting eaten by a hippo and all that jazz only to end up at the ultimate level already having skipped over all those obstacles? Nada! That wouldn’t be a very fun game at all.
Yet hackers and launderers exist, oh my! So maybe those things are not all connected, BUT the point is I don’t get why people have to be so evil and selfish like that. Why would you do it? Why would you prey on the innocent? The thing in common with all these scenarios is people like avoiding or skipping all the “boring” parts and going straight to the “fun” parts. The truth is we have to go through all the “boring” parts to get to the “fun” parts to make the “fun” parts worthwhile. But people don’t want to go through the “boring” parts because those parts are boring. A lot of times they are hard to go through and nobody likes difficult tasks unless the payoff at the end is truly rewarding. So it becomes this sickly merry-go-round of working hard vs. reaping the rewards vs. skipping straight to the reaping rewards part.
Every day we wake up and have many decisions to make. Press play. Press stop. Press rewind. Press fast forward if you have to. But whatever you do, don’t press skip.
OK I just got back from the grocery store and it seems to me that America loves their eggs, meat (especially beef), bread, and pasta. But nobody cares about washing their clothes or eating candy. Some have started wearing face masks, while many more have started wearing disposable gloves. Whenever someone coughs, about 10 or so heads turn to look and those 10 or so try to move away. When the cashier asked if I found everything OK, I mention I didn’t get any chicken and he says I have to get here at 7 in the morning if I want chicken. Good to know.
I remember when I was in high school, my dad tried to tell me that I don’t want to stay a cashier in the grocery store for the rest of my life. I know what he was really trying to say: he looks down on those people because his daughter has the potential to do so much more with her life than just be a cashier. Back then I knew what he meant, but I didn’t know what he meant at the same time. Makes sense? Because what does it mean to be just a cashier? Is it because the job itself is not too complicated and anyone with some high school education can do it? Are people who go to college and beyond automatically more respectable or something? Or is it because there’s a class division that is decided by what job you have and cashier is on the low end?
Flash forward to me talking to a friend a few years ago at her house about what he said. She and I both came to the conclusion that we disagreed with my dad. I told her that the cashier in the grocery store might just be the most important person in the world. Well, now here we are. I was right. This You-Know-Who virus sure showed us of Lord Voldemort proportions that if there is no cashier at the grocery store, you don’t get to eat. Well, unless there’s self-checkout. (That is so not the point!) Flash forward a few more years and my dad’s no longer here to tell me what he really thinks. I am in no way trying to paint him as a bad guy. He really did have his reasons for saying about cashiers what he did and probably I am the only one besides my mom who really gets it. All I’m saying is, when all is said and done, there’s nothing wrong with being a cashier at a grocery store.
I don’t know what to say except for life is hard. For as long as I am breathing and my eyes are open, there’s something to do, some business to take care of. I guess in the end that’s a good thing because you never want life to get boring. But it’s also an exhausting way to live. I don’t know if the way I choose to live my life is making it exhausting, I just know there are some days when I wish I can take one day, just one day, and figure everything out about my life for the rest of my life. I never do and I think I need to every once in a while check in with myself and take a whole day off and figure some things out if I can’t figure everything out. Maybe that’s what I need to do, but I never do it. It seems whether I like it or not, I’ve put my brain on some sort of survival mode. As if I’m programmed just to solve the problem right in front of me and not plan for anything. But that’s so not it either because I have several planners to help me shape my future. I think I just get too distracted too easily and then time runs out and I mess something up that messes up the plan.
I made those words before COVID-19 has forced as all to be hermits. Now that it has forced me as well, I think I may have gotten my wish. Isn’t life weird like that? And this time I mean weird, as in wyrd, as in fate. So I guess this means watch out! You don’t know what’s coming up next on this blog of mine. I may have some life-changing news to share soon. Or…you may still see my confusing self trying to make sense of it all. Either way, here’s hoping this time in isolation will help us all grow into decent human beings.
They are thought bullets that stick to my desk and computer monitor. They are scattered. Like little connect-the-dots that seem random, but eventually creates a picture that makes sense once connected. Some are in blue. Some are in purple. Some are in pink. And still some others are in yellow. In my case the different colors don’t mean anything, but for some people, different colors can mean different things.
They are reminders on accounts, a cool new restaurant to try, a fun bookstore to visit, a useful website for writing, a new trick in Excel, a monthly directive, and a music lesson. They are parts of grocery lists, where to get homemade pop tarts, a dentist appointment, an invitation to a Halloween party, and podcasts to listen to. They come shooting out of my fingers faster than my brain can command, wanting to be done so they can jump into my recycling bin and shred bin. But tossing them away is futile, like plucking out unwanted hair. Take one away and two more come back in its place.
I have post-its everywhere. Work and at home.
People who don’t understand your boundaries don’t deserve your attention. You see, if you let someone take over your schedule one time and not say anything about it, then that person will get used to it and expect you to let them take over your schedule over and over again. Only, they won’t think that they are taking over your schedule. To them they get to be themselves around you and it’s all normal and good. So as soon as you feel someone overstepping your boundaries you feel a tendency to cut them out. But the problem is, if you do this every time someone consistently oversteps your boundaries, there may be no one left. What do you do then? You have two options. Either talk to the person about it or compromise. If you don’t do either, a huge fight is on the horizon.
I was at a Chinese buffet yesterday with my mom (like Scarlett O’ Hara I feel like she is the only woman I can trust) and noticed many families on their phones instead of engaging with each other. Meanwhile my mom and I were swapping stories and laughing and having a good time together. It made me sad and disappointed to see so many disconnected families, but it made me grateful to have the time to spend with my mom in the way that I still can. I am cherishing every moment I get to spend with my mom. You just never know how long you have with someone.
Depression and fear can creep up on you before you are fully aware of it, like getting your period if you’re a girl. At least that’s how it is when I’m getting my period. (I hope this is not TMI.) I’m fine one day, then the next all of a sudden I’m starving all the time and really moody. I’m surprised every time, like I’ve never gotten my period before, and then it arrives and I’m thinking ohhh! That’s what was going on with me the last few days, duh! Every. Time.
Anyway, that’s kind of like how depression and fear creep up on you. When it does and you finally realize that’s what’s going on with you, you just feel…defeated if it’s the first time you’re going through it and disappointed if it’s not the first time. The truth is at different stages of your life you’re going to experience moments where you just don’t feel like you belong anywhere, but you’ll also experience moments of pure joy, where you know you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. I would tell you to hold onto those moments of pure joy when you are going through moments in the opposite direction, but that only works temporarily.
It takes peace. And that means shushing the voices in your head that confuse you. That can be a confusing process in itself, but it must be done to get the clarity you need so you can stop feeling down on yourself and letting your fears take the wheel.