hoe, but make it fashion

I had the opportunity to take my friend’s senior pictures. I really like how they turned out.

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middle of the world

After class, I had the notion to drive. I hadn’t taken a drive and I had bought three CDs I wanted to listen to before I went home to study. I put The Black Keys’ Attack & Release on blast, windows down, and started my drive on the backroads. I didn’t plan on driving home. I didn’t want to go home. I never wanted to go home. So I just drove.

I didn’t drive until last year. So when I got my license, I made a promise to myself that I would go on unknown roads and that I would find different ways to get home. This has been satisfying for my crave of adventure and thrill of the unfamiliar while keeping up with my studies. I have found new places to eat and beautiful scenery to gaze upon and think, “Wow.” The equivalent of what I’m doing are like the discoverers of America who would later come back to their motherland with maps of their exploration.  Slowly am I expanding my map with each little drive.

I was thinking where I haven’t explored yet and thought about two locations I kind of knew but still seemed mysterious. I had them in mind and kept driving with ‘Psychotic Girl’ playing in the background. So easily did I drive past my intended destination, but kept going. I still knew the area because I used to go to school here and thought once I reached this old school I would go home to study bio. But once I saw my old school, I just kept driving. I saw other familiar locations and again told myself once I reached this old location I knew I would turn around. I reached the old restaurants I would eat at with friends before band competitions and before Friday Night games. I easily drove past them.

This time I didn’t know where I was going, but it felt right. I still had the Black Keys playing and this ‘keep going’ feeling. Finally, I reached this overlooking ridge that my family would always stop at to gaze at the Appalachian Mountains. I finally pulled over there and thought, “My gosh.” I was nearly two hours away from home and was alone. I got out and looked at the same view my family always did and just felt . . . liberated.

I was always an independent person and to get this far away from everything I know and everyone I know was thrilling. I loved this adventure I wasn’t looking for. I loved the cool air in the midst of hot weather that came too early. I loved how everything was so beautiful right then.

It then hit me, how I could keep driving. I could start anew, something I’ve so desperately craved for. I could get a job and live by myself. I could go forth and never look back. In this moment, where I never looked at my phone, was on my own adventure, independently alone,

In this moment, where I never looked at my phone, was on my own adventure, independently alone, and had a center of peace and joy. . . I was truly me. I was liberated. I was joyous. I was content. And it was so scary. Because in that moment, I would have left without any regret and wouldn’t have thought twice about it at all.

That very thought still lingers onto me like a bittersweet taste and I crave it more each day. I was so bold. I was so free. I was me. I want that unpredictability and thrill. I want to get hurt. I want to laugh. I want to cry as long as it’s genuine, as long as it shows this and this alone is exactly the type of life I should be living. I want that feeling as if I’m in the middle of the world.

 

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

John Green

the lull of comfort

Every now and then we take a sigh and look around. We’ve done so much and feel great having accomplished this much. We’ve worked hard and now we’re taking a break. So it’s nice to watch the sunset and it’s nice to drive the backroads.

But it’s also too comforting to live like this. Every time we watch the sunset we lose what once was the greatest beauty we’ve ever seen and the drive of a slower pace becomes a bore once we pass that same gas station and get stuck behind a slow driver. We become bored. We become restless. We continue living with these sunsets and beaten roads.

It’s easy to live like this, but what more can we expect? Tomorrow’s sunset? The same drive home? Admiring our hard work to an accomplishment that’s losing its worth?

Most people stay in this comfort zone. They think they’ve achieved all they could and reward themselves. They then settle for what they already have and fall into this routine, this living of knowing what’s to come instead of anticipation. It’s nice to live like this, as things always were, but what kind of ‘living’ is this?

Humans didn’t stop their endeavors after they reached space. They left footprints on the moon and are looking at landing on Mars. We didn’t stop once we met one achievement; we worked just as hard and continued our progress in this beautiful, opportunistic, chaotic life we were bestowed upon.

Is it hard to go forward and make our path in unknown territory? Of course, it is and it’s scary as hell. But was fear and obstacles going to stop us from living? Well, yes and no, but it shouldn’t. If we never did anything beyond what we already knew and tried new things, we would never be ourselves truly or understand how others live around us.

This isn’t about waiting for the next pink and yellow sunset or racing home on the alternative path. Life is about dancing in rainstorms, getting stuck in traffic, scraping your knees, going to unpopular vacation locations, trying foods you can’t pronounce, and doing things you’ve never imagined yourself doing.

Many people settle and never do anything more than what they allow themselves to do. They’re living within their own comfort zones of barriers so thick from everything else their life could be if they decided to push forth. They live so small with the long years given to them instead of living years within the small time given to them.

It’s different, it’s scary, it’s not easy to live, but it’s all we have and why not do all we can in this life?

the question

I think anyone who is a person of color has been asked this question. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s how white people ask the question that’s pretty noteworthy of the cringe and awkwardness in asking. There are many different ways they ask, much like the many different flavors of white there actually is. Some of my favorite over the years include:

‘What are you?’

‘So where are you from? Like really from?’

‘What is your origin or your parents?’

If you haven’t figured it out, this question is about race, more specifically ethnicity of the more colored skin toned people. I understand how people are curious, but there needs to be a better way of asking about someone’s ethnicity. It’s so awkward to put into words awkward to hear someone try to ask in a way that won’t offend the person of color. I don’t think it’s such a touchy subject to ask about someone’s ethnicity or race or culture since people are curious, but the wording some people choose to use kill me.

‘Like where are you really from?’

I’m from a small town in North Carolina, even more specifically I came from the womb. I didn’t come from anywhere else or anyplace else for my birth certificate says so. But I get what the person is asking, ‘Where is your culture/heritage from?’ Now, with that question, I would give the answer they wanted and say I’m Filipino and Chinese. To ask where I’m really from would imply that my loyalty remains with this distant, probably romanticized country you’re thinking off than where I’m actually from and demean my status and kind of citizenship of the current country I am from and probably know better because I grew up here. And I’m sure anyone who carries another race in front of the American status – like mine would be Asian American – is just as much American as Abraham Lincoln is and as American as the immigrant who came to here for a better life.

‘Where are your parents from?’

I thought it was funny to be asked this question. To nicely ask my ethnicity by asking about my parents, it’s not that awkward, but it’s a different way of asking. I thought it was a great way of asking about my heritage, but once it goes back to again distant generations I wouldn’t know off it goes back to this romanticized period of my culture than the present and actual culture of my people with asking me instead of past generations. Not only is it going back to this archaic culture that seems out of touch with the current generation, it’s also degrading for your knowledge of who you are to be dismissed and ask more of your parent’s status than an actual acknowledgment of who they are.

‘You don’t look like -insert race-, so what mix are you?’

I’m a mix of mischief, wit, sleep deprivation, and vodka. Because I do not fit your perceived image of a certain race does not mean I am any less of my race and ethnicity. So this brings up this great declaration, not all Asians look alike very much like how all black people do not look alike or how all Hispanics look alike. This generalizes who we are to a limited understanding and perception of culture than the actual diversity and complexity and richness of these marginalized cultures, races, ethnicities. With this generalization of how we should look like, it also infers how you think we act and ought to be than the reality of us as people than this clump of misinformation. Let my Asian self be Asian and nothing less just because I do not share squinty eyes like how you think all Asians share.

This also does not mean I am different ingredients of ethnicities, but rather a hodgepodge. I never understood people were able to describe themselves as 1/8 Cherokee, 1/8 German, 1/4 Irish, and 1/2 French. How are they so precise that you can make a cake out of your race ingredients? I’ve always answered this question as Filipino-Chinese, but never 50/50 because my ethnicity blended into part of my mother’s family being mostly Filipino then marrying Chinese and my father’s side being Chinese, but growing up in the Philippines – this isn’t some teaspoon of Chinese mixed with a cup of Filipino, but it’s a blend that’s not well defined.

Honestly, just ask the question ‘What is your ethnicity?’ This is not offensive and it’s not awkward to put into what you really want to ask and awkward to realize this is the question about to be asked or how you ask the question. Different ethnicities and cultures should be talked about and embraced rather than discouraged, further marginalized, and appropriated because of this ignorance. We’ve become so culturally sensitive towards acknowledging and wanting to learn about others, that we’ve become culturally ignorant. Don’t understand why Asian Americans get mad when you joke about cats and dogs being their food? Don’t understand why African Americans get mad when you wear cornrows or use their slang? Don’t understand why Latino Americans get mad when you dress up in a sombrero and poncho for Halloween? Don’t understand why Native Americans get mad when you wear headdresses and moccasins for fashion? Ask and learn why, ask and learn about their culture, ask and learn to be better aware of ethnicity and the differences in how they live versus yours and how beautiful and meaningful their traditions are just like yours are. People aren’t any more sensitive or can’t take a joke when it comes to their culture or ethnicity because it is something that defines them, they’re most likely pissed that this is the version of their culture/ethnicity that is socially accepted and that who they are is so much more.

So what is your ethnicity? Learn from us. Learn our religion, food, heritage, celebrations, why something holds value to us when you perceive it as something trivial. When we talk, share, educate ourselves, we understand these issues and become richer with this shared culture and knowledge.

 

NYT, CNN, BBC

I find it alarming that the White House banned certain news media from its Friday press conference.

The News isn’t supposed to be articles praising the President’s every move or claiming the President to be the greatest despite actions and policies that are not aligned with ‘greatness.’ The news is supposed to inform the people so they can understand the facts and develop their own opinions and feelings about it. The News is supposed to give different perspectives of events unfolding around them. The News is supposed to be critical, thought-provoking, and honest.

Fake news is not news that does not follow only one perspective or kiss up to a President’s awful policies and careless actions, but it is news that is so distorted to only see the event in one way, a good way that benefits only one person. Fake news is lies being told as truths, such as the 45th Inauguration having the highest attendance and the Bowling Green Massacre, by our government and its officials. Fake news is essentially propaganda blindly leading its people into thinking everything is fine when actually everything is not fine.

Having different news outlets is good because there are details in each story that come from different perspectives. It allows people to get a full understand of policies, events, and ideas. It provides a true democracy of speech and accessibility of the people with its government. The media is unofficially the fourth branch of government and has its power in making the people believe this and allowing them to know this. There is great responsibility in informing people and it depends on many different news outlets to develop their story and share it with others. By blocking some of these news outlets from doing their job, then it is only the people that are suffering at the hands of a tyrannical government. The news should not be allowed for a certain few who agree with you, Mr. President, but everyone who participates in this democracy of ours, and yes, this includes your critics, the 65 million who voted against you, CNN, New York Times, and BBC because democracy is not only limited to the landowning, white male, but to all of us.

green grass and tall trees

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Let’s just start out with cold, hard facts: the environment matters and global warming exist and is a bigger issue than we recognize it to be.

This is our home. Over the years, we have become like rebellious teens trying to create our rules that benefit only us and only caused conflict with the rest of the household. We have disposed of our trash at our ease out windows while driving onto the side of the road, into our rivers, or just left in the grass and trees because nature will take care of it. This is like piling another dish in the sink when your parents have asked you to do dishes or calling it almost when you throw a piece of trash away but it misses or leaving one dirty shirt on the floor and insisting on picking it up later when it becomes the first dirty shirt of many others.

We are cutting down trees at a faster rate than they can replenish and our actions of burning fossil fuel and completely disregarding our environment as our right to use and exploit its services and goods without accepting consequences in return is just insane to say is not an issue worth discussing or even saying is an issue.

Leaving our responsibility towards others to be the ‘bigger person’ means that we are saying that we have no responsibility for the mess we are creating of our home.

To say that this isn’t a problem because it doesn’t affect me personally is living with blinders on. The degradation of our environment means worst air conditions and water conditions that affect our health and because of this means a heavy medical bill from our pockets. The degradation of our environment affects the food we eat either from ocean acidification affecting our fish products and causing problems with livestock growing with weather irregularities because of the earth trying to heal itself from these problems. The degradation of our environment means that our home will not be able to sustain us and protect us from dangers, but instead make us sick and also hurt us.

The earth is warming up. Not just because of a cycle, but also because of our actions of deforestation, overfishing, burning fossil fuels, mass urbanization, and ignorance of consequences that is causing the earth to warm up and also cause more irregular and severe weather patterns around the world. This shouldn’t be a debate of whether it’s real or not anymore, but action in how to ease our contribution to this problem.

Maybe we have acknowledged this problem, but we haven’t really thought of it. In a first world nation especially it’s easy to think that this doesn’t affect me when we have a job or school and friends to hang out with and that new Giant Big Mac to try out. Our life and routine keep us from truly seeing this problem surrounding us and the world bigger than ours. Sure we pass by litter driving to work, but never really give it much thought but it’s trash. We should recognize that the trash shouldn’t be there and not only does it make the drive to work ugly, but it contributes to the overall pollution problem that will affect our water, air, and soil resources. However, in this first world nation I live in with others, we should be held more responsible with the established political, economic, and social power we have, oh and the knowledge we have of our world and actions. We have the knowledge and resources to look for alternative ways to live that coincides with the environment rather than aggravates it and will provide economically and socially.

As inhabitants of this home, we need to take part in keeping our home livable. We need to be aware of these problems and act towards a solution instead of debate and wait for a disaster to cause us to make us realize that there is a problem. We need to educate others and help them establish their needs rather than let them deplete their resources and further live in squalor. What we do and how we live is connected with everyone and everything else in this home. Let us live harmoniously with each other instead of conflicting with each other. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but we can start now by picking up that dirty shirt or really looking at this world around us.

Lemonade’s Legacy

I applaud Adele for her last acceptance speech in Album of the Year. She recognized how ’25’ was a great album, but it paled in comparison to ‘Lemonade’ in the effect, empowerment, and era to be redefined by.

I remember buying Lemonade as soon as I got money. I had only heard of Formation from the Super Bowl half-time show and was like wow Beyonce has a new album coming out. I honestly didn’t care much for Beyonce before – yet respected her musicianship. But then once the music video came out and the teasers for the visual came out, I just had to buy it and oh boy I was not disappointed.

Lemonade is art. Through its music to the poetry and its picture, my gosh, is it beautiful. I won’t lie the prose before ‘Hold Up’ with the ‘I plugged my menses with pages from the Holy Book’ inspired some of my writing for a while because it was just an inspiration and work of art through everything it was. ‘Sorry’ was another part of Lemonade I thought was just amazing, the look, choreography, and song is amazing. It’s beautiful and just recalling my first time watching it makes me feel speechless.

Then the cultural effect. There are artists who always skim around social issues and politics by vaguely putting their support for LGBT rights, feminism, or black lives matter, but then Beyonce drops Lemonade and reminds us that this is who she is and the issues that not only affect her because of her race and identity but others that look like her. She didn’t skim around politics, but she made it clear that Black Lives Matter and it is empowering to be a woman, and not only that but how seeing ‘black’ also affects the treatment of women. There is a difference between sexist actions towards a white woman and towards a black woman and Beyonce enlightens us about these issues. With her skin and her sex, she declares how she is proud of both and how it empowers her despite what everyone else tells her.

Lemonade empowered the marginalized and those who thought lowly of themselves because they had darker skin and were women. It showed them that they can be bigger and greater than their perceived worth but in their person.

Adele realized and told millions how it was Lemonade that deserved the award because of the impact it had not only with how much it sold and charts, but with her black friends and how they are now empowered and stand up for themselves. An album that can create that kind of impact of power and understanding of racial issues and construct of intersectional sexism deserved the Grammy award for the next ten years.

But you know, it’s not Adele’s fault for having a tremendous talent win against an equally respected and high talent of Beyonce. Adele rejected her Grammy and expressed how it should’ve been Lemonade – I think that’s real feminism of women recognizing each other’s talents and respecting each other in such an honest way and helping each other no matter how famous they are – but hey who made this contest/award show?

It’s surely not Adele. She showed up to be with other great talents and was nominated for a couple awards. It’s not her fault. More than anything it’s the Grammy’s.

Not only do they pick repeats in categories, but they overlook other great musicians due to popularity and maintaining its image. Most performances are of the pop genre and a selected few are like filler performances of the other genres of jazz, rock, and country. It’s not a wide variety being reflected off a music show of the widest range being picked for nominations or does it expose us to what music can be beside the overplayed pop song and classic band arrangement. It’s not about popularity with only showing pop music, but it should be a reflection of music and all its kinds and forms. It should be about exposing jazz music, classical music, indie rock bands, Latino music, R&B, and all the others forgotten.

I now realize that the performers and nominations selected are those that made some kind of noise within that year, not exactly talent. Music connects us all and shouldn’t be treated as only prioritizing those that made the radio station with Ryan Secreast, but those innovators who are changing the game and leaving their legacy.

Very much like Lemonade has.