Monday, April 22, 2013

On the bright side...

...this week's been full of ridiculously fun times since Chi Hien came home. I haven't been doing my work as efficiently or as thoroughly as I usually do, but fuck it 'cause ohana comes first! Plus, it's senior year, and I'm ready now to try more than ever to truly live to the fullest each and every day. 
Only six more weeks...


People like him are the epitome of pathetic, the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth, the shit at the very bottom of all piles of shit, and absolutely need to have their asses handed to them. 
It was dumbfounding and downright shocking how racist he was. He kept asking for more pinto beans or some shit, but the server (who happened to be Latino and spoke English just fine) hesitated to keep adding more when they can only give so much per order without the price changing. Then, the man got irrationally impatient and started yelling at the guy, yelling for more of this and more of that, yelling that he'd pay for whatever price he needed to pay for the extras, eventually shouting out, "Can I get someone who speaks English here?!" 
Hoooooold the fuck up. What the fuck?
I was so taken aback by his blatant lack of respect and abounding ignorance. Everyone was watching and listening in complete shock.
What's worse is that I stood there with Chi Hien in line and said nothing
There was one woman in front of us, a few people sitting down at tables listening, and half of the Anna Taqueria's staff behind the counter trying to pacify the asshole. I shouldn't have held my tongue. I shouldn't have been scared...
He was a BIG, middle-aged white male, and because of physical traits alone, I was scared to speak out, scared of the fact that he could've physically hurt me or Chi Hien if aggravated. He kept banging on the glass between himself and the server, and it made me even more fucking pissed but also really nervous for everyone's well-being.
In the end, he got his burrito and x amount of beans and left about 5 minutes later. No one called him on his fuckery. All customers, Chi Hien and myself included, were passive bystanders who said nothing and avoided involvement, just waiting for it to be over. The Anna's staff simply did all that they could as fast as they could to get the man his shit and get him out. The poor server on the receiving end of the bullshit was submissive but clearly upset, and ended up switching with a coworker and serving us instead on the other side. The poor guy... I did nothing other than order sweetly and thank him profusely, despite having witnessed what happened between him and the motherfucker.
Makes me sick... I have no tolerance for shit like that, and I'm typically not one to ever back down from a confrontation... But today, I disappointed myself by proving to that man, to Chi Hien, and to everyone in that restaurant, that I wasn't brave enough to speak out against discrimination.
None of us were. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Everything since coming home has been so up and down. I thought my sensitivity and emotional state were back at equilibrium, but I'm just as volatile as I was in my first days home.

I miss my Hanoi fam terribly, and everyday since leaving them I've longed to go straight back to explore the night on motorbikes, sit down for huge family dinners, go out with my cousins for late night snacks and long laughs and chats, run around the streets with the little cousins while dodging cars, climb creepy buildings to peep graffiti and skylines, hold every last item that belonged to ong noi and ba noi, visit their graves and light incense for them, fall asleep to the lull of an urban concerto, and wake up the next morning feeling alive. 

I love Ma, Ba, Chi Hien, and Chi Trang, but the love we're living with here doesn't compare to the love in Hanoi. We don't sit down for dinner every Sunday with every aunt, uncle, and cousin present. Each day, we're moving at a rate of a thousand miles per hour, passing each other by, exchanging maybe an hour's worth of words if we're lucky. All my cousins over there are so close, they're more like siblings, whereas here I don't see any of my relatives that way. 

The mefloquine's still causing these creepy, trippy dreams every now and then. Last night, I think I dreamed specifically about the marathon because I woke up with a tight feeling of fear in my chest. It was so vivid, so sick. I just kept seeing bloody body parts and heads in every direction, some landing in random vats of oil and literally sizzling into fried bits. It was just as vivid and horrific as the first night of taking meflo, when I woke up screaming and covered in cold sweat. 

I see those little faces of Kampot in my daydreams. The laughter of small children is still my favorite sound in the universe, the smell of the white flowers they tucked into my hair is still fresh in my memory, and Vuthin's reading of The Giving Tree is still one of the most poignant scenes of my life. I tear up when I think too long and too deeply about them.

I can't count the number of times my heart broke in those three weeks. In Cambodia, it was close to almost everyday. In Vietnam, it wasn't until the very last moment that I broke down. Chu Phuc, Chi Ly, Trang, Hoang, Bou Ngan, Trung, and I were standing right outside Immigration, and it was then that I knew my goodbye's would be final, that I wouldn't be staying another night in their home, that I would fly halfway across the world not knowing when we'd be reunited. I tried to utter a thank you speech that I'd been preparing and dreading to give all week long, but I choked on the first sentence. I told them that even though I'd been gone for over ten years, they loved and cared for me as if I'd been with them all this time, and for that I could never thank them enough. They shushed me, asked me to not be sad, and told me this was only a see-you-later as they all engulfed me in an embrace. I cried the whole way through Customs, Immigration, and security, not giving a single fuck about who saw me because my family at that point were far out of sight and irrevocably beyond my reach. It'd been so long since I felt that lonely, broken, hysterical. The last time I can think of is the night of the car accident and those sleepless hours in bed that followed, relentlessly crying in pitch-black darkness and silence. I remember pulling myself together before I got to the Immigration window, sliding the officer my visa under the glass. He looked at the paper, looked back at me, and said in Viet with a smile, "Your visa hasn't expired yet, em. Why not stay and play longer?" I laughed but the sound was hollow, and replied, "I want to, but I can't," before bursting into fresh tears.

At Cheoung Ek, the utter despair and tragedy, the bodies buried that were slowly resurfacing, the smell of the stupa filled with excavated bones and skulls... the very atmosphere chilled my soul and made my blood curdle. I felt so permeated by it and sick in every layer of my being--physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. A priori in every sense of the phrase. I absolutely lost it when I encountered that little girl and her mother along the path. Inside the complex and beside the mass graves was one large pond, encircled by a dirt path and an enclosing wire fence. A mother and her daughter had built their shanty against the outer side of that fence and found a gap in it large enough for them to squeeze through. I watched them as they went through it with large plastic jugs in hand, and crossed the path in front of me, staring back at me as they passed. I smiled, greeted them, and they did the same. Then, they descended the pond's banks and began filling their jugs with that water, that water from the pond beside the mass graves, to carry back to their shanty. It just killed me, watching this small girl who could've been the same age as Dana, live in such utter poverty, using and drinking such sickening water. Imagine living within meters of 8,000 bodies dismantled and scarcely buried. Just horrific.

My mind's a vast collection of still frames and corresponding stories. Since coming home, I have not once talked about my experiences with anyone for more than 15 minutes at any one given time. No one really has much of an idea of what I experienced, and in a way it's isolating, difficult. Maybe I'm not giving people enough credit, but I honestly don't see myself feeling comfortable enough with anyone to completely unload and share all this heaviness. I wouldn't feel good about that because no one needs more sadness than they're already carrying. All of the moments I have shared aloud have been for the most part only the more positive, inspiring stories. I just need time to articulate and empty out from pen to paper these memories waiting to be written.

I'm dying bit by bit each day, but I'm not scared. I'm just living from moment to moment.

After biking on Monday, I felt content and alive once again. When I got her call, I thought she had called to ask about the marathon and maybe even congratulate me. Instead, she broke me the news, that it was for sure this time, and that she was scared and didn't want this. My mind went back to April Fool's Day a year or two ago, when she texted me that news as a joke but I took it seriously and called, my hands shaking in complete shock. I was pissed when she finally told me it was only a joke because shit like that was nothing to joke about. This time, I didn't shake. I wasn't shocked or even surprised. I was just tired. I didn't really want to talk to her, and to be honest I was unhappy that she'd killed my mood with this bit of information, regardless of the gravity. She's been really sad that his sister doesn't support them, but the sad truth that she doesn't know is that I completely side with that sister. Did she learn nothing the first time? For a cheap thrill with a dude she does not love, she's thrown away the key to innumerable opportunities (I hesitate to say future). Later that afternoon, the attacks happened, and she still had the audacity to text me and complain about herself. I stopped using my phone after that. 

Since then, she brings it up nonstop, and it's just annoying. It used to be nauseating, but this time it just gets on my nerves. I don't even know how to talk to her anymore... but this is what she wants. I hope for her sake she doesn't regret it.

Everything felt/feels so outlandish and surreal.

Thank the Universe Ba made it home safely and that no one I knew was physically hurt in the attacks. My blood is blessed.

Today was going really well until she fucking pissed me off. I tried to include her in the process because she's always bitching about her opinions and ideas not being taken into account and about the teachers always running shit, but then when I ask for her input she gets fucking huffy as shit. I presented my ideas and a rundown of the meeting we had, which she then shitted on. So I asked how she would do it instead. After she thought about it and told me her ideas, I critiqued them with more reasoning than the way in which she "critiqued" mine, but it pissed her off. She was getting unresponsive and shutting down in communication. Eventually she got defensive and said something like, "You're asking for my ideas but you don't like any of them." I'm asking her for the ideas because we're a fucking leadership core, and I never said I didn't like them, only that I had feedback on them that happened to not be what she wanted to hear. Andrew called her out on her behavior, basically telling her that she didn't need to be angry all the time to get her point across, that her anger was just ineffective in making change. Then that pissed her off some more and she fought back some. It ended when I asked her a question, and she refused to answer, so I walked away. After, I saw her she storm off from Andrew. Childish as fuck. Within the first days of coming home, I laid my fucking pride down to reset our friendship even though we'd both been at fault. But this time, I don't feel any need to apologize or initiate reconciliation. Because I've seen so much familial love, the way I see my friends has definitely taken a hugeass shift (for better or for worse, only time will tell). I'm not willing to put as much effort into these relationships as I did before. I'm not willing to meet anyone further than halfway anymore. I'm so burnt out of loving so unconditionally, of always making excuses for everyone, that I can't help but begin to see some friendships as disposable, this now being one of them. If she makes zero effort to fix us, then that'll be the end of it. She's been starting to look like Jenni, so I guess it's inevitable. 

He told me that despite how often she irrationally lashes out at him, he won't just drop her because he knows how much of the ground she stands on is made up of his presence and mine. Purely because of that fact, he just can't leave her and feel morally sound. He's a really good guy, and she's damn lucky she found him. Unfortunately, I don't share his moral bearing. 

And I was also sad today because I found out I wouldn't be able to donate blood for another 12 months. Fucking malaria rule. Thursday would have marked the beginning of my lifelong commitment to blood donations every 2-3 months. The attacks on Monday really hit home for me and manifested into this urgency to begin my commitment to donating now rather than later. But looks like I don't have any option but to wait now. I guess now would be the best time to get a tattoo since that'll also mark the beginning of no blood donations for 12 months.

Everything makes me melancholy, stressed, hopeless, or fleetingly happy. Today, Az's surprise email definitely made me happy, but later I remembered my scholarship apps and how I don't know how I'm gonna pay for school these next four years. It's sad to admit this but my dream school honestly has become my nightmare. The debt terrifies me, but I'm trying desperately hard to just trust that I will find a way.