I’m panicking and running up the stairs to get to the bathroom in a house that reveals itself as I move. Not soon enough- it’s happening on the carpet. I get into the shower and I understand more clearly that cubicles are named after their shape. Small, cramped, obscured by flimsy curtains front and back. All of a sudden, my dad flings open the curtain in front of me and I recoil, arms tucked, legs crossed. “What the hell are you doing?” I stammer. I don’t know what he’s saying to me but it’s not important. “What?” he seems unperturbed, if not a little confused and surprised by my reaction. It’s as if it were the most natural thing in the world to see me naked. “What the fuck!” I’m so angry and embarrassed. He finally turns and leaves the cube.
I’m welcomed back to a school atop of watering holes and grassy cliffs. A school where people are characters with extra big grins and extra loud voices. In the cafeteria, he stands there, acknowledging me silently but not approaching. Accurate depiction; a scene from Grease. This girl with extra wild hair takes me around, and as she asks me about him, I find myself pretending that his nickname is off-limits, that he’s someone I know of but do not know. Then, I come across a group of acrobats, who, as she tells me, are sponsored to perform dangerous tricks on the school grounds. They’re clownish, with their crimson lips and perilous zeal. They get on shoulders, fold their backs, sway and start over.
My counsellor wants me to submit the thank you card I wrote her to a few people so they can translate it into a number of different languages and repackage it. She reads it line by line and starts to sniffle at the good bits. I’m glowing. She dabs at her eyes and then uses Tippex to white-out the places where another word might fit better.
You make me want to kick and scream “I’m not like that!” But I’m sorry to admit that I am like that, when it comes to you. I’ll be anything you want me to be. Fickle. And I hate that I’ve taught you that I’m no fortress; I’m an open door. Welcome, fuck me (up) whenever! But how can this be when you haven’t made a home in me? Why is it that you’ve never had to ask nicely for anything- that I’m pulling you into me before the clamouring of a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t?
What’s worse than someone who doesn’t know that they’re the special occasion, you ask? Someone who abuses that privilege. Don’t make me angry with myself. Guard my pride as if it were your own.
This could’ve been a good thing, you know. If you cared for my best interests. Shouldn’t our wills be bent towards the person we love if he loves us more than himself? Where pride has no place? Where we’d do anything for them and melt into their embrace even in our anger? Our emotions serve a functional purpose. Women aren’t crazy. It’s not me, darling. It’s you.
There’s always this one person my mind floats towards when I’m horny. Like a piece of driftwood in a stream. It’s going and going in his direction. Straight to his erection. I’m a poet. And it’s frustrating that it’s a ghost from the past that won’t let me into the light. I thought we were over this… you. I’ve hated how time and time again, I’ve surrendered to you the way cockroaches crawl out of their burrows to die. Not this time.
May you find community wherever you go. A special circle of mutual affinity. Our rituals: bowing before we begin, slapping our gloves together in a congratulatory manner after each round. We thank our partners. Let’s make that a practice always. Thank you. Thank you.
I made a new friend at a Muay Thai class the other day. Her name is Ava. She’s got more stamina than me, more grit. I gave up after the thirtieth kick. Fifty just wasn’t going to happen. It’s been a while since exercise has made me want to vomit- it was a close call.
I love yoga and kickboxing because I’ve learned firsthand that with consistency, I get results. The more PROGRESS I see (I’m obsessed). No wonder people are addicted to the gym life; it’s so rewarding. Gradually, you realize you don’t need to take as many breaks between punches. You can do more than five pushups. Your back stretches further, your legs don’t strain. It’s easy, you’re a little bored, you burn for the next challenge. And your arms are more toned, your shoulders broader. You’ve shaped yourself physically- a tangible marker of progress. I’ve always loved that one can guess what sports people do from their physique. Broad shoulders, slim waist, muscular legs: swimmer. Well defined calves, skinny frame: tennis. Big and burly, bulbous arms and chest: rugby. You literally build and shape yourself from your commitment and training. It’s empowering.
I’m kind of deathly afraid of planning. There’s just so much to be done I don’t know where to start. I am not a goal setter. I am not a SMART targets kind of girl- I just hope everything will fall into place, getting through the worries of each day as they come, concerning myself with what people are relying on me to finish. Like, I have to complete this arrangement for my acapella group. I have to event-plan philanthropies because it’s part of my job description. I know that organization is a necessary skill- one that will help me flourish. You’ve got to cut up the onions before you fry them and order the spices before you throw them in the pan. It’s all about efficiency.
My counselor reassured me by saying that every single person learns to plan. We don’t pop out of the womb knowing how it’s done and how to do it well, which means that I’m not a lost cause. I’ve already had a mini revelation at my growing competence from planning and choosing a hiking trail for tomorrow. Along with our hike-friendly picnic goodies. It’s a small thing, but it’s something. I’m not depending on anyone to give me a breakdown of the itinerary or lead me to the correct bus stop. It’s nice to feel well-informed and proactive.
Goal setting helps us keep track of progress. I wholeheartedly believe that progress is a key ingredient for happiness- so why am I not doing the obvious thing? I stumbled across this motivational quote on Instagram: Only through organization can you find more freedom. Counterintuitive. Structure brings clarity and in that space you will discover freedom. Thanks Brendon Burchard! Speaking of, I used to keep care about the follower/following ratio but now it seems the most meaningless restriction. I’ll follow 10k accounts if I want to.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter what I mean to you at the end of the day. I’ll be the person who cares genuinely, even if I’m caring alone. I’d rather my gaze reflect something about the way I want to love than what I want from you. Here’s a sliver of old timey yearning for a time and place where you look at me like that too.
– – – – –
Lupe Fiasco’s lyrics struck a chord today: Any love less than unconditional is so Under-Christian, it’s unrepentant.
Lord, I cannot hide from You. Help me to discover how You surpass any sinful desire I might find appealing at the moment. Help me to see that they are lies that muddy my vision for true joy and satisfaction. Help me to train my heart to a new love, in the same way that I’ve recently discovered that avocados are actually really good on their own. Not with nachos and salsa, not in a whole wheat sandwich, not meagerly spooned over salad. Just straight up, scooped out of it’s gravely shell. And it’s good for me. See, ‘unhealthy’ chips are now too salty for my liking. The bulk of my diet consists of vegetables (cucumbers especially!!) and fruits, and it’s not even because I’m forcing myself to eat healthy. I now prefer vegetables to chocolate even, which used to be unthinkable. I can’t fake these newfound enjoyments and it’s amazing to think that they’re working in my favour. It’s like, finally, some of my desires are aligned with that which is good for me. I’m so used to the opposite- driving straight into disaster because I refuse to believe in the alternative. Too consumed by what is immediately satisfying. So help me be truthful in my enjoyment of You, so that I may see and believe that You are only good.
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”. – John Piper
‘I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.’
– Psalm 27:13
I used to use cutesie names like ‘peenee’ for the ghastly penis. I’d put up a disclaimer before admitting to anyone that I was a horny teen- like dude, this is so embarrassing but I can’t stop thinking about the peen. But hey, I’m happy to speak of such things in the past tense; I’ve learned a couple things.
I’ve always admired the way people owned their words and spoke about sex and masturbation without any hint of discomfort. Because it meant that they accepted a part of themselves that I couldn’t. It was a confusing time; though I cringed upon hearing about sexcapades, I was drawn to these raconteurs. I wanted to know- it was our common obsession- but I’d feel a little suffocation in my chest, a stab of jealousy even. Why does she talk about getting off as if she were talking about walking a dog? How dare she? And why can’t I be like her? I didn’t want anyone to be okay with sex as long as I wasn’t.
Two years in college has changed that for me, because I’ve realised that the worst thing I can do to myself is deny a part of my nature to the rest of the world. I’ve met so many people who have had similar experiences: early curiosity and sexual discoveries coupled with the corrupting influence of crude friends in elementary school. I know I’m not alone in my bouts of extreme horniness or in my ever-present appetite. A part of me used to think it was abnormal, that I and those who spoke openly about it were deviantly sexual… but not only is this simply untrue, it can be incredibly damaging. It helps to know that statistically speaking, it’s so normal I could cry for every time I cried out of self-disgust. Horny ladies out there, I am with you. It seems that everyone denies ever having watched porn or having wondered about girls, but I promise it’s more common than you would ever have thought.
It’s a bummer that so much shame and guilt comes from misunderstanding sexual desire and its God-given purpose. I am thankful to have met Christian women who are honest with their struggles! Thank God for making us relational beings, for intimacy, pleasure and love. Sex shouldn’t be a taboo, a non-Christian thing, a topic visited only after marriage. We are doing girls a disservice by making them deal with the issue of sex alone, in private, under a veil of secrecy. It surprises me to look through the Old Testament and see how sex was once a family matter. The whole town celebrated the marriage consummation! It wasn’t embarrassing, it was a fact of life. Although I would ABSOLUTELY HATE to have my parents wait outside the door to check my sheets after the honeymoon bang, can we please bring back an attitude of openness towards sex? Strip (haha) ourselves of shame and have a conversation?
In fact I am happy to be going back to LA. I have found a window to sit under. Tea whenever. I can leave the campus at three am and walk into the city if I wanted to. I do meet people randomly all the time. There’s no good time to date? I disagree. There is a time called not now. When I’m not happy enough myself, not whole enough independently to let anyone in. I don’t want to depend on another person to make myself sane, or have my feelings so wrapped around this person that I don’t know who I am. I have boundaries, I am an individual. And this will not change with a man.
My thoughts on relationships have stayed the same. With the additional: I only want a man who can help me serve God better. I love love love to see growth- both in myself and in others. Probably why I like reading and blogging so much. I see that I’ve only grown more in love with Los Angeles… Even then, I was a little indifferent about the city itself. I’ve learned that indifference is something I cannot stand. It stops me from writing and being creative. I’d pick depressed over indifferent any day- unless indifference is a symptom (#defeated). I just hate going out for dim sum with my grandmother and my aunt, unwilling to smile or even clear my throat. There is nothing to say. I might as well not be here. I have no feeling towards these human beings. I don’t even look up when my helper speaks to me or hands me a plate of scrambled eggs. “Thanks”, I say as I scroll through Daily Mail. The one saving grace is the intense jealousy I feel inspecting every documentation of Tom Hiddleston and Taylor’s romance. It must be a ploy. But Tom is too good a person to play the media like that.
I’m writing about indifference because, in spite of learning not to base my self-worth on the certainty afforded by achievements, part of me is still obsessed with pinning down favourite somethings. I rejoice over little discoveries that confirm that yes, I can be moved. Yessss, I am not a waste of space! I feel like a failure if I don’t know myself enough to come up with an answer to “what are your favourite artists?” It mostly-always throws me into an identity crisis. But here’s something: it’s okay to enjoy the feel of songs rather than their content. That can be equally as important and profound. I appreciate what sounds can do! Let your memories perform.
I don’t need to have a favourite artist or a go-to song. I listen to songs that suit the mood; it must fit the vibe of this real-time movie. I just don’t know why I find this so uncomfortable to come to terms with! As long as I find my stability in Jesus, I don’t need any other favourites to mark me as an individual. He is my constant.
What we like so much is someone who is authentically happy with themselves. The best thing is to be confident in what you believe in, to stand tall knowing that you are living out your principles regardless of what people think or say. To not have to fake anything. To be honestly radiant, without even trying. The antidote to my indifference, I initially thought, was to change the scenery. Maybe, go out into the city and drink more coffee. See a friend I really like. But I’ve come to my senses: the change begins INSIDE my head and heart. It’s all about perspective. Because the minute my family left for Canada and I said goodbye to my helper as she prepared for Indonesia, I remembered all the reasons why I loved them. The way my dad kisses my forehead, how my mum praises me for home exercises, how my helper always goes above and beyond in her generosity and thoughtfulness. How my sister makes me laugh and how she always looks at me with admiration and fondness. I am always surrounded by such love. Indifference melts away when I remember.
I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. Guilty maybe. I’ve seen what I can’t unsee and I’m sorry because this is exactly what you were afraid of. I just started shaking, crying- the caffeine caught up. It never occurred to me that you noticed so much, like how on some days we’re together as a family should be and how on others, there’s a sadness for lost time, the many conversations we could have had. You are a sensitive person with so many thoughts I wish you’d share. Little daily treasures. Never once did you let on how you felt. That you love so fiercely. That you were doing your penance. That you are truly a man of God.
And I’m shocked to the core that there’s so much you hid from us for our own good. You shut up so much of yourself and all we saw was a soft kind of perfection. If I could let you know one thing: I forgive you. You are the best father anyone could ask for and nothing you do will ever shake my confidence in you. We’re all human after all; I wish I could confide in you about my imperfections. Oh, how I struggle too.