Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

San Jose, California USA



A buzzing apartment complex riddled with silly children and kind older people, I was the baby that got towed around in a little red wheel barrow and hardly ever saw my parents but didn't really care. I was constantly tossed up in play, high speed, jittery shake up the neighborhood play, and cool calm little walks to a duck pond with an old lady who had a million scarfs. She would always let me wear one beside her while we fed those squawking birds quite happily in the afternoon. My mother would sing to me while she bathed me. "Ay ay ay ay...canta y no yodis!" Cielito lindo, a song about singing instead of crying. And somehow my parents thought it was cute to pose me kissing boys, so I must've kissed at least half a dozen boys before the years when it was considered dreadfully icky. My parents were young, though at the time I had no idea that they were young...they were older than me. My dad used to bounce me on his knee and somehow I have a memory of that time being wild zebra time. And as my parents got a bit older, they got quite a bit wealthier though stayed frugal...and we had a house with two stories. I remember my dad holding my feet and letting me walk up the stairs with my hands and I had one doll made out of plastic that I used to hold by the hair and carry everywhere I went. I thought it was a good idea to put makeup on her (aka pens and nail polish all over her face)...I remember a tiny red electric piano with a red strap that I used to carry around until it broke. I also had a little accordion. Apparently, at parties, I thought it quite natural to find my way onstage with any performing band...I'd rock out on my accordion. My mom tells me that I used to stick my head in the toilet and sing...that it was a common practice of mine. I had my own room, it was incredibly pink with wallpaper that had little flowers on it in decadent rows with lacey lines and things. I was afraid of the dark so much that I would lay every single stuffed animal of mine up in a row on my bed to protect me from vampires while I slept. Once, I dreamt that I'd eaten a lego and my parents hauled me to the emergency room to see if it was true. All my early childhood pictures portray me as a monkey-like, chubby faced and extremely tan baby with rosy cheeks and glossy eyes. For some reason my mother decided to put me in the Santa Clara baby pageant and I won first place simply because I would always dance my ass off to a certain Blondie song that my mom would fire up. My mother also thought it was cute to teach a baby how to wink, so I apparently winked at everybody.
When I was 4 years old, I decided to make a request. I asked my mother for a sister and showed her the bald cabbage patch doll I had at the time. I told her to produce a sister that looked exactly like this doll of mine. I remember asking her specifically, and very formally at my grandparents house. She was sitting on a recliner and I stepped up to her with my doll. And she honored my request.
My sister arrived from the hospital completely bald. She had toes that I thought looked like the baby grapes that only kids were supposed to eat. She had a big smiley face, and rosy cheeks ,and she was as pale as milk until she was 3. Unlike me, she was an indoor baby. She laughed and giggled and drooled and made funky noises just about all the time. She hardly ever cried as far as I can remember. I knew she was constantly trying to communicate through her high pitched fart noises and lip blubber excited shriek language. I was pretty sure I could understand her, but made a point of teaching her the proper English language as far as a knew it then. When she was born, I thought of myself as an adult who would have to teach her everything I knew for her to get by in this world. I taught her all the games I had up my sleeve and together we'd create all kinds of things. I'd dress her up in strange scenarios...she'd be a fireman riding around with her diaper on her indoor motorcycle that I'd dressed up as a fire truck, or she'd me a mystical tarot reader with a turban on her head sitting under a wooden chair telling fortunes, or a chef making a play dough meal and we'd have menus and a whole restaurant. We were architects of theatrical play and could make a solid building out of just about anything from a toppled over couch and it's cushions to sheets and boxes and a staircase and tables and chairs and we even had an apartment complex in the laundry room for a little while. My parents did not appreciate the apartment number sign(masking tape) peeling off the paint on the door. My parents also had no idea that we stayed up playing most nights. The only suspicion they might have was when my sister would end up tossed across the room in wails of pain at 1 am.
I had a best friend, who literally was the boy next door, named Vinh Ngyuen. He was ossim. He was totally down for a combination of G.I.Joe and Barbie playtime. We had a hell of a time together until his sister made fun of us one day. We were crouching over a tic tac toe game when she pointed and screamed "Oooh look, they're kissing!"...after which, we ran away frantically screaming and hiding from each other. Our friendship was never the same. Kindergarten taught him that I had cooties and it taught me that he probably had cooties. I could swear that every once in awhile we glanced at each other with memories though. Society has a way of tearing friends apart over stupid ass shit.
At some point in elementary school, I got to realizing that my parents were weird and that I was weird in turn. I can look back on pictures of 2nd grade and I stick out like a sore thumb. My mom would buy random clothes and I didn't care what the hell I wore. There are pictures in which I am sporting a bright yellow sweat suit that has a large patch of an easter bunny on it. I also have pictures of myself in a blue sweater dress ensemble taking on the theme of flying cows. When I was a kindergartner, my hair was always tied in the most beautiful French braids, and upon arriving in first grade...well my dad started doing my hair. I didn't feel like it, but I looked like a freak, and somehow other kids knew that.
So growing up, I had a little girl harass me everyday... Melissa. She was a girl that lived at the bottom of the hill from me. She would take time out of her day to tell me that I looked like shit in one way or another. I would go home with tears in my eyes, and my busy mother would not console me. So one day I must've got it in my head that I actually was incredibly ugly...and life was really simple for a while. I was pretty funny and nice and smart, so who cared a rats ass if I was or was not ugly. At the point of acceptance with my freakishly ugly state of existence, Melissa didn't bother me at all. And when she found out that she couldn't really affect me at all, she started bothering my friends. She told Amber that she wouldn't be friends with her if Amber was friends with me...and to that, Amber said...fine.
We ended up in some sort of after school court because the teacher had wanted to know why Melissa was crying...and with very straight faces, me and Amber laid it down and Melissa had absolutely no case at all...so that was that. But because of my stamp of ugliness, I could never expect anyone in the world to ever have a crush on me. This boy named Brian at one point or another was known to have had a crush on every single girl in my class BUT me. And to me that meant that I was totally right about my ugliness. It gave me a sort of confidence.
I did all kinds of things when I was a kid. Me and Jenny T would scramble round the oak trees with broken calculators. I'd fixed them to be "walkie talkies" with "video screens" and I'd rig up our own mysteries to solve. I would hide letters in the trees for us to unveil clues and pursue pretty much nothing because recess was always so damn short. I used to write plays starring my friends. I once wrote a play that took place in ancient Egypt. It was a way of presenting the mummification process, but it ended up being a soap opera-like drama. Bianca C. played the part of queen BBTT and Jennifer played the evil queen Jenitra (I know, I know...the names..yikes). Somehow, the play was a hit, so my teacher had us perform it in 3 other classes. A couple other plays followed, but I was so easily distracted by one creative pursuit or another. Me and Jenny ran for President and Vice president simply because we wanted to get in the way of the "popular" girls. Man, the popular girls were a bunch that simply wore a lot of makeup and had extremely high hair, were well dressed, and knew how to be excessively mean. The clump of badly permed early growth spurt girls were actually threatened by us...so they ganged up on us just like popular bitches do in movies. Jennifer T had her shoes thrown 12 feet onto the basketball courts.
We lost. But dressing up to give a speech in front of the whole school finally got me aware of how I should be dressing.
When I entered junior high, I entered a totally different world. It's as if the completely insane girls magnetically found each other and a safe haven ensued. Wacky times, junior high. Good times. Never in my life had any boy ever taken an interest in me. A blonde, drum-playing, metal-loving cat who was extremely confident and slick with his words actually flirted with me in the 7th grade, and I formed an obsession in a matter of minutes.
My crazy cousin came to live with me at my house for a year. She taught me the ways of cussing, burping, rock music, and fixing my hair with some altitude. She goaded my crush on, she intentionally made my parents uncomfortable at the dinner table, she wailed each day about how stupid it was that we didn't have cable television, she missed junk food and would get her mother to prepare her food to keep in our fridge so she wouldn't have to eat the light Chinese California cuisine our house munched on each evening. We had sessions where we would sit on the floor, Indian-style, head banging with helicopter spinning pony tails to the new Metallica album. This cousin of mine taught me how to verbally abuse people at any given moment for just about anything. I was already weird, so the fusion of her introduction and my own personality came out with hilarious results( although maybe just hilarious to 7th graders). I got along with many different types of people in 7th grade. I think I was in awe of everything and everyone at that point. I thought I was addicted to celery like a super-drug that had me bouncing off the walls. My friends were dealers and sustained my habit. Back then, we thought food fights were funny...maybe they still are. We would start up a mess at lunch by discreetly throwing food at a nearby table of unsuspecting innocents. Me, Jenny T and Stacie J. threw a valentines party that was entirely rigged.
I still have footage of the party, that most definitely needed the chaperones in attendance. The footage looks like a bunch of overgrown monkeys hopping up and down making crazy noises with streamers hanging out of their hair and wrapped around their necks, half the monkeys love the camera and half the monkeys are trying desperately to avoid it. I remember dancing my rigged dance with Sean, who I was smitten for at the time. He was tall and had stonewashed jeans that he wished were baggy, and so he pulled them down just a bit so that they were low enough for other people to pull shenanigans on him. Once, when he finally got me alone to romantically chat with me in front of Tower Records, my friends came peeling around the corner and he was left with his underwear, his knees showing, a bag of candy and a fire-red face that ensued in a mushroom/dirt clod fight on a nearby embankment.
We had crushes on each other for an entire year without trusting in them. We were both saxophone players in the school jazz band. The trip to Reno was the best thing in the world at the time. I remember playing some game at Circus Circus when a girl came up to me and told me that Sean had just won me a bear and was going to give it to me and ask me to "to go around" with him. "Going around" was the term for that form of dating that existed in the age before dating. I was so excited that when I saw him I could do nothing but shut him down. Here he was with 2 bears and he asked me which I liked the best...and I grabbed them and made them talk to each other in ridiculous voices...following that with a scene in which one bear farted on the other. I thought we'd have the whole bus ride home to talk about it, but no. All of us boarded the bus home but him. He'd planned to stay with his parents for the weekend. He ran up the stairs of the school bus as we were about to leave and he dumped an entire bag of winnings on me..and said "Keep them! I don't know what I'd do with them."
When we finally got around to "going around", we were both so awkward. Our first kiss was tremendously uncoordinated. We just smashed into each other and then we gave it another try and laughed a whole lot. After that, it was hard to be friends. He wrote me a love letter over the summer that made life hard for me. My mom found it on the counter...he talked about wanting to make love to me and how he loved me so much he'd rather have his balls cut off than live without me. My mom is....well very VERY terrifying on the subject of sex. Back then and to this day. Sex is bad and dirty and disease ridden and only dog-ish people do this and marriage is something that magically happens between completely virginal 35 year olds, and even then, babies are a planned thing in which sex hardly plays a role, and if I want to waste my life with trash being trash she wants nothing to do with me. Anyway, she took his written dialogue very seriously and told me something that made me uncomfortable nearly every day, so that when I saw him again I was very slap on the back chummy and we only kissed another time after that first time and in high school he broke up with me in a letter that made use of a brand new code ( one of the things we were crazy about each other over). I remember singing about hills and valleys in High School with the choir, deciphering a note and cracking up into tears as I figured the whole thing out.
High School was alright, not that great. My parents had gotten divorced and my dad had a new woman in his life that had a one-year old child who would spit in my face and laugh with cherubic blonde curls and a devilish grin. My sister was going through hard times in elementary school. We had only gotten a year or two together at the same school.( I remember meeting her at the recess divide, a border between big and little kids to talk about things.) Divorce was really hard on me. I even thought for a moment that I'd never see my dad again. I remember collecting pieces of his garbage and holding onto it as if they were mementos of him. High School was a return to social injustices I had encountered in Elementary School. People were "grown up" now, so they were far more serious and not capable of having the same kind of fun they used to. One by one, I saw my friends get the life sucked out of them and I realized that I had to tame down who I was to fit into the educational category I was placed in. I was stuck in the same crowd of people for 4 years. These were people who volunteered at places for the sake of their college records. The twins that used to have wild and crazy times with me became cheerleaders. The girls that used to talk in multiple voices with multiple personalities toned it down and were depressed about their family lives. Friends that I thought would be there through thick and thin found boyfriends and dropped of the side of the earth. I sat at the top of a grassy hill with a group of girls who I didn't necessarily relate to. I watched myself as my wardrobe changed. I always thought I was a size 10 in pants, but I was actually a size 2. I changed from oversized black t shirts to bright and cheery pea coats. Who was the phony? Was it me or was it them? Were they making me change or was I just changing?
There was a teacher that made me hate writing for a while, when I used to love it. He would stand in front of the class and read a prime example of perfect writing. To him, a good paper had complex words strung throughout it. Where I use to flow in my own quirky way, I learned how to write like a girl named Martha. Bland bland bland, academic hog wash words was the equivalent of a good grade in his class, and I earned myself a good grade throwing away my love of writing for quite a while. At this period in my life, I blamed everyone but myself for everything. This continued until I made it to college.
I entered UC Santa Cruz, angry at my parents for being angry at me. They had never bothered to watch me progress through high school and were upset at the finale when my grades were not as great as they had hoped. I was sure, at this time in my life, that my dad had always thought I was a worthless idiot. The sweet mother of my early childhood was a ball of stress at this time. She would explode at any given moment, and talking with her was walking on a minefield of eggshells.
The summer before college, I saw a dick for the first time. It was a little traumatic because I was kissing the guy I was head over heels for, and suddenly my hand was on his bare dick and I hadn't put it there. He never believed me, and I didn't know what to do with it. He was a jerk.
At UCSC, I was on automatic. I was trying to please my parents and the world I was aware of by envisioning myself as a biological engineer. I really was interested in just about everything though. I found a boyfriend to pass the time with . I met him over a campfire. I met his voice before I met his face and his voice was kind and intelligent, and funny in a corny way. I was always distracted and enveloped myself in distractions. I hopped about in all kinds of majors and made out with this boy in all kinds of public places. Took physics, and organic chemistry and vector calculus and journalism and creative writing and printmaking and the social and political implications of biotechnology and sustainable agriculture and legal studies and anthropology...and on and on and on...playing a shadow in a Chautauqua festival play, trying to formulate a memorial for McHenry with an egomaniac of an art professor that I later found out tried to kiss a student. At one point I was taking 30 units in a quarter and volunteering for no credit on the campus newspaper. Every once in awhile, I felt like I was really good at taking things seriously. I could play the role of this or that to a tee. A couple professors in different fields truly believed I would be whatever they thought I was trying to pursue at the time.
In the end, I was going to get a double major in Legal Studies and Environmental Studies when my grandfather died, I fell in love and I tried mushrooms for the first time. It all happened at once. I remember taking a shower with Sigur Ros gleaming in the background and the glints of sunshine sparkling on the drops of water that settled on the bathroom tile. I remember a primal scream that happened when I got a phone call. I remember a cat sitting on my knee while I rocked myself in a hammock chair by an iron furnace in Bonny Doon. I remember a conversation in a very loud club, a conversation that seemed only 5-10 minutes long when it really must have been 2 hours. I remember this boy yelling at me later on. I remember a sensitive time, where just about every moment of every day touched a nerve in my soul. I remember thinking that it was totally ok to just walk away from this pretend life. I left everyone out. I day dreamed while I walked. I can still remember the way the air smelled, and the wishes I would make while lighting candles ,and how I started to sing and play music again. I started to write music, and people that never knew that I sang were in the know. I started to paint again. I started to feel again, and to live life on whims and to drive to places I hadn't gone to before. I started to talk to strangers and to take risks and to dance my heart out like "a warrior", as my friend once put it. Strange things happened to me and I noticed them and I got to be very spiritual where I hadn't really been before. God didn't reach down and talk to me or terrorize me in my sleep with a beam of light, there were just coincidences and times were I felt like I had a sense of things I should follow and do and read, things I reflected on and cried about and grew to adore. I explored an unfolding love, doors within doors and layers within layers of compassion and borders and definitions that keep people locked up in small places.
Here I am, maybe nothing to anyone else. I'm painting and writing music. I'm working as a waitress only at night. I'm not saving any money but I'm living on my own. My bathroom is painted like a star filled sky with glittery mobiles and my plants are all named. I live in a low income housing community that is supposed to be for artists, though our gallery is behind a gate. My paintings all look so sloppy. I paint about my cactus dying and dreaming of becoming an aspiring actor, A dreamer dreaming of becoming a dreamer. I paint a large pomegranate held by a man and a woman attached at the foot, and all the seeds are hearts on fire and the thing is so heavy for the man and so light for the woman. I wonder if I'm just full of shit and wish there was some way of helping the dishwasher at the Marriott who is old enough to be a great grandfather. My mom wants me to give up art and invest in a condo, to sell mortgage or take nursing classes. My dad still hopes I'll go back to something practical. He sends me the Bob Brinker Market Timer Update and we still go bowling every week. We both suck at bowling. I've got a knack for cooking complete vegetarian meals in a matter of minutes. I doubt that anyone would love me. The guys I meet just want to have sex with me. I still dream, I still wish and I still exist. I'm healthy and I jump on a trampoline on my porch. People think I'm much younger than I actually am and I play it off. I'm still a believer, in that I'm not going to give up and be practical. Better to die trying something worth living for. And every day has got to be different, because if a person lives the same way every day...20 years could pass by that seem like one day. I'm still in the closet about who I am, not that I'm gay...not like that. I think a lot of artists are in the closet...maybe my toe is sticking out, maybe the upper crescents of my eyes. I'm trying to kick myself out of the closet because the closet isn't very liberating. People can be painters and deemed artists but still be in the closet working around things they think people will accept. I went on a hike to the top of a hill that overlooks my city, how small it all is. It's so small and everyone is running around occupied by this and that. I have the right to run around in that mess however the heck I want, and I know that I'm positive and loving so why not. That brings me to today.