Sunday, July 23, 2017

Born Day Reflections at 33

Nothing special this year. I realized that for the last five years, I was consistent about having a party at my house or at a friends house. Those parties have always been a blast and a great time to catch up with folks that I rarely get to see. Not to mention that alcohol and piƱatas are always a guaranteed good time. I just wasn't feeling it this year, so I kept it low-key. It was just another Saturday to me. I went to work for the first half and then some shopping for back issues of some of my comic books. The special treat was being able to spend it with my girlfriend as well. All in all, I enjoyed being able to spend my time how I wanted. That's pretty much it. No existential pondering or questioning of things I'm currently going through or that are happening. Am I worried about losing my DACA work permit? Being deported? Losing everything I've worked for? Nah. I'm busy enough in my day to day routine and various responsibilities that I never give it much thought other than fully understanding that the end is important in all things. How and when is a different story for another blog post. For now, I'm grateful for everything I have going on and everything that is yet to come. This year has really been about putting in work on various levels, but at the same time, I feel stagnant as well.  

For so long, my livelihood has depended on both my digital organizing and story telling that I can't see myself doing any other kind of work. Now I'm getting to the point of not wanting to be in front of a computer screen because of eye strain and because so much has changed as well. I've been able to keep up and adapt to keep myself relevant to whatever is going on, but this year I started shifting and loosing up on a few things as well. For the longest time, I had my own unwritten rule book about how things should be posted, when, how they should look, ways to maximize engagement, impressions, views etc. It's something I developed from my days in college and being a journalism major. I treated social media as an extension of journalism, so there had to be some basic structures and guidelines to things, other wise it would all be unusable randomness that couldn't be tracked or quantified. Said unwritten rules have helped me other the last 10 years, but things have changed so much now that I want to continue experimenting with new and traditional ways of getting information and stories out there.

I have ideas, but not enough time or resources to pull it off on my own. At the same time, if I start something, how far will I see it through? Quality takes time and energy and some days, I could care less. As fulfilling as it is, I don't want it turning into another item on my to do list that I need to grind through. At the same time though, there are so many new voices out there today that it becomes overwhelming. I remember a time when content creators of color were a rare and you had to go out of your way to find them and support them because many didn't last that long. Now I have a smorgasbord of content to chose from at any given time, but again, it's just overwhelming. If I wanna listen/watch discussions about a show, I first have to be caught up w said show to avoid spoilers & to be engaged in the discussion. Not to mention the endless possibilities that are possible thanks to the intersectionalities of our lives and everything in-between.

I think about all that and kinda wonder where I would fall in, you know. What do I bring to the table that will be of interest to others but also be sustainable. Facebook and Twitter have become my go to outlets for speaking my mind and sharing what I'm into at the moment. Not too long ago, I had a few blogs in which I could share what was going with me or around me in a more communal form. now, except for this one, I don't really have those outlets anymore. Like I said, way more voices are in the mix now and some get more play than others for one reason or another, it's the way of the world. I think back on those times and I was having a blast in spite of everything that was going on. I made it work and it helped me get where I am today and where am I today? Being a curmudgeon who wants to avoid large public gatherings, over rated restaurants, annoy people, and other consumer related habits that take over your life if you aren't careful.

Repetition and routine are most definitely the themes of 2017 and it's a good mix up from previous years. While at times, it feels like in a rut, I realize that even that in itself is a kind of blessing, but one I don't want to bask in for too long, lest I become bitter and a complete ass hole. Right now I'm just semi-bitter and a partial ass hole. We'll see how the rest of the year plays out and what it brings.    


Monday, July 10, 2017

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Thi Bui's memoir hit close to home on many levels for me. Books like hers hold a special place for me for some obvious reasons, but the biggest is that it's a story of immigration told through a comic book. I constantly keep an eye out for books like these and immediately pick them one when I learn about them to read them for myself. At face value, Bui shares her families story of coming to the United States from Vietnam and that alone is an amazing story. She weaves historical moments in-between her families experiences growing up, having kids, trying to raise kids, and eventually having to leave their home country. I don't wanna get into details because I don't wanna spoil it for you when you read it, but what she shares reminded me of my own experiences of growing up as an immigrant but also the complex and toxic relationship I've had with my own parents. Her use of water colors and her personal style give a kind of painful beauty to some of the emotionally intense moments in her story. It can be a lot to take in at times, but it keeps you enthralled to continue reading and learning more about Bui's life and her family.

Once I finished reading her book, it took me a few days to process everything that was drudged up in relation to my own immigrant experience and the toxic relationship I have with my parents. Like Bui, I myself have gone down that path of trying to better understand my parents as individuals, as human beings. Through age, developing emotional maturity, and piecing together their lives like a scattered jigsaw puzzle, I came to a place of understanding, both of them and for me. I've spent years trying to better understand how things happened and why they happened when I was growing up. For the longest time, I just took it as face value because they could never explain the why of whatever was going on at the time. Instead, it came from a place of you're a kid, you don't understand anything because you waste your time watching cartoons and playing video games. Least that's how it came across for me back then. Again, time and maturity have helped me process and make sense of a lot of things with no real closure. The more I analyzed my parents and what they experienced growing up, it was clear that they themselves were denied emotional support from their families, so how could they convey something they never got to their kids?

Once I came to this understanding, my own relationship with them started falling into place. In the beginning, all I felt was frustration and extreme anger. I would get all existential to the point that I would question why they even had me in the first place and what cosmic joke was being played on me for having to experience this. I would reflect here and there on instances from my childhood and break down what happened to try to find a way to place all the blame on them so I could have myself a pity party. Over the years, I made it a point to distance myself from my family for a lot of different reasons, but at the core of that was trying to leave behind what I picked up from them. I looked to others for the support I longed for from my family and at times I also formed my own chosen family of friends. Through them, I learned to let go of a lot of things and continued to grow because of their support and understanding. Still, dealing with trauma is exhausting and the growth I make is in small steps, but steps that are moving me forward.

Through all this processing and understanding, I've created some peace for myself in order to continue growing as an individual. In choosing to stay away from my family, I've had to put up with societal norms that can be annoying as a mosquito bite or as painful as a burn. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a part of me that wants to talk to my parents and work everything out to a point of closure but the damage done is too deep for me to want to do that with them. Which is not to say that I don't care about them, come on, they're my parents. For all their toxicity and best intentions, I'm here doing work and thriving just like they wanted me to when they would tell me to do good in school so I wouldn't have to spend the rest of my life making a living like they did. For sure, these feelings are going to keep getting more complex as time passes and maybe I'll do something about them then, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Like Bui's parents, mine were just trying to do the best that they could.