notes to self

also posted here.

2011 is supposed to be the year of big things popping, little shit stopping, and this is what that means to me:

– i want to choreograph dances at bus stops, in the shower, and while waiting on line for coffee.  i miss the days when my head was filled with never-ending soundtracks and songs on repeat, when my body moved in all the ways it wanted to and all the ways i didn’t know it could.  it was dance that taught me how to connect with other bodies, how to create and share space with other people, and how to hold me accountable to myself.

– i want to learn languages for bridge-building and not resume-building.  i want my words to connect, not colonize.  i recognize that there are spaces i will change simply by having access to them, and i want to find a respectful way to work towards deep, accessible, movement building that doesn’t infringe on anyone’s right to cultivating and preserving their own spaces.

– i don’t want to ever regret letting people in.

– i want to continue to find and build homes everywhere i go.  plant roots everywhere and you will feel grounded anywhere.  thank you, baltimore.

– i want to spend my days weaving social justice dreams and crafting radical love notes.  i had an intense brainstorm session with my supervisor-turned-mentor-turned-best buddy and we planted ideas together.  there is something to be said for always wanting better, and i feel it deep in my core–an intense desire to do better, make better, get better.   love better.

– i want to always fight for and with my communities and i want to be expanding all. the. time.  perpetual note to self: be bigger and stronger in voice and body.

 

healer, heal thyself

i read an article today about non-monogamy.  it was just one of many that i’ve gotten a hold of in the last six months, but unlike most pieces i’ve read, at some points reading it felt like looking into my own heart.  things that have been on the tip of my tongue, or that i can draw up from my gchat archives, or that i’ve actually said out loud, laid out beautifully in this pdf file.

i’ve been spending a lot of time un-learning lately.  i see so much value in the ways that polyamory can help us challenge the sexist, ableist, capitalistic, and heteronormative frameworks that dictate and confine the ways we love each other.  i want to be a limitless lover, a radical lover, a lover that doesn’t give a shit if she’s overflowing.  i want to be the noun, and i want to verb it–so that it’s not just a feeling or a title, it’s an act that i perform over and over again, honestly, relentlessly, and unabashedly.

and i want us to do it together.  i want everyone in my communities to be able to love freely, to offer what we can of ourselves–no more, no less–and be valued for the gifts we bring.  i want us to believe that we are worthy of each other, and i want this belief to transform us.

new york short stories

i have gone to uniqlo pretty much every other day since i got back. how do i begin to describe what uniqlo means to me? as a kind of gathering space for people like me. as an asian american space. as a contemporary, youthful space that was imported to us from japan. as a space that offers alterations for free (asia has been doing this for years!). i feel so good about bringing back to california at least 4 pairs of pants that fit me WELL.

alterations used to take at least a day at uniqlo. around the holidays, that used to come out to like 4 days. and being back for the holidays, i heard that they’ve tried to minimize the turnaround time to only a few hours. i couldn’t believe it, but my order from last week took only 2 days and today it was 2 hours. i asked if they have like people doing the tailoring on-site, and i was told that they do.

i started thinking about the people who are tailoring my pants. i thought of images of working immigrants of color who don’t really speak english. like a sweatshop narrative that i grew up around. and then i thought, maybe i’m wrong. who could be tailoring my pants? and what must they be thinking about all these pairs of pants that come in and out of that room in the basement? which of the folks shopping above them got these pants? and yet, we’ve organized the transactions so that we would never have to interact with those workers who tailored our pants.

what if the people who tailored our pants were folks we have met? and for whatever reason, it just didn’t come out that the person/people who tailor our pants worked specifically at uniqlo or tailored pants? and can you imagine a sort of emo, unfortunate love story like that? like that secret was just for us, the viewers, and the dreamer? oh, and um, capitalism.

or what if the people who tailored our pants marked the pants in specific ways, intentionally or not. they could have vivid memories of their work by the threadwork. oh, that was when i was feeling rushed that day because of that 2-hour turnaround. or, that was when there were a whole pile of specifically tan slim fitted corduroys that day? and they fell in love with someone. and then one day, they were doing laundry together and they found their own threadwork in their partners’ pants? does that remain some kind of secret between us, the viewers, and the people who tailored our pants? and capitalism, too, i guess?

i can imagine this really fun short film out of this wondering i had today. and if i were to make a contribution to the “i love new york,” that would be it.

Exploring Teaching

“I want my children to be smarter than me.”
— Jill Scott, “My Petition”

I want to believe — boldly and bravely. Never before have I felt as challenged and urgently positioned to clarify and embody my beliefs. As an undergrad, I tried on different ideas and frameworks, as though shopping in a marketplace of ideas. I loved the ways some ideas fit me, and I kept them because they made me feel beautiful, empowered, inspired — fulfilling in one way or another. I travel with these ideas, and now it feels as though I have to find room for them in my classroom.

The negotiations that I have been making — and struggling with — hover around this question of belief. Finding room, or perhaps more appropriately, making room, for my baggage requires a certain belief in my work. Specifically, it means wholly believing that teaching is a kind of magic. Somehow, I can lead a class of 30 young children to develop and gain a broad range of skills, ideas, and experiences and to construct a meaningful community in the process. Immersed in the environment, I have never been more cognizant of the scope of the work and of the ways that I had taken for granted the relationships and spaces that we build together as well as the indeed rich complexities of the experiences of young children. Still, I am not shying away from this. I just have to make that leap.

Making this leap requires that I decide which pieces of my baggage to take with me. I am reluctant to give up the very ideas that led me here. They still make me feel beautiful, empowered, and inspired, and I want to believe that they do fit into my classroom. They make me feel so confident in what I do, and they remind me of a kind of love. These ideas shape the ways I make sense of the world around me and of the identities, histories, and communities that I inherit. Most of all, they shape my belief in a kind of love that is critical, groundbreaking, and all mighty powerful. It is a kind of love that I want in my classroom, flowing and seeping into every interaction and experience. It does not always feel nice and warm, but it is nonetheless felt and thriving. My students will feel it when I stand in front of the classroom and when they approach each other. It fortifies the community that we build, and they can take it with them when they leave my classroom.

I want to believe in that. I want to believe that these ideas of mine, even if they are not so “safe” or neutral, have a central place in my classroom. I want to believe that when Geraldine writes about her love for her family, when Alan successfully reads and sounds out words in a difficult book, and when Jason writes a six-page narrative, their accomplishments are no small feats, given the ways that histories and systems have stopped so many others like them — and me — from doing the same. This love grounds my commitment to my work, to persevere, and it is a love that I have inherited from my own teachers — in ways subtle and explicit.

I want to believe that I can bring this love to my classroom, and my students will indeed take it with them. I want to believe that they will understand this and other inheritances and perhaps choose to believe and sustain it, if not critique and transform it. For me, embodying this love, wearing it like every stitch is mine is both exciting and scary. I need to believe that it is neither fluffy nor quixotic. I need to believe that, instead, it is fitting and about time.

From Jilltro to our Intro…

What’s up, everybody? I’m glad to see y’all here tonight. It’s nice to get this love. I need it.

Before we dive into the ways that we are thinking about love and everything related to love, I really want us to have a clear vision, maybe even a statement, on the ways that this blog aims to contribute to conversations already happening in the blogosphere. I highly respect the folks who make blogging the amazing institution of the 21st century that it is, and I want to carve my own space and also continue that legacy.

Basically what I live for is, uhm: love. love.”

In thinking about the appropriate introduction, I’m extremely tempted to get referential. Referential as paying homage to or recognizing the folks who and perhaps places that have taught me the most about love. Jill Scott is an obvious choice, but more particularly, her “Jilltro” track makes for a perfect introduction. It already leads by example, and it captures the core of what I want to articulate in my own introduction.

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It’s nice to be here so let me do my thing.”

confessions

Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite or a fraud when I talk about love and communities.  Because in real life, probably realer than I can handle, with my most immediate community, the place where I learned what love was, it ain’t so easy or clear cut.  My relationship with my parents is strained at best.  It has had its dips and rises over the years, and reached a point of stasis one or two years ago.  However, every so often, like today, during a conversation about my current living situation, things erupt, and we find ourselves fighting the same battles we have been fighting for over a decade.

Sometimes, we feel most silenced by the people we love and need the most.  When I argue with my mother, I find myself constantly repeating the refrain, “listen to me!” and when she doesn’t, I shout it louder and louder, and I beg her to stop, and when she doesn’t, I shut down.  I hang up.

I am envious of my friends who frequently have conversations with their parents (or worse, mine) about things that matter.  Who learn family histories and share stories and keep up with each others’ lives in a way that is nurturing and fulfilling, not damning or guilt-infusing.  I have no idea how to bridge the divides–the language thing, the culture thing, the generation thing.  I don’t know how to share myself.  At least, not the parts of me that are growing and learning and trying to do good in the world.  And this is where I feel like a fraud, talking about the things that I want to accomplish, the communities I want to build and connect, when I can’t even feel like a whole person with the community that I was born into.

In my first post, I wrote about how we need each other for healing; we look to each other to fill the holes that are left by our personal struggles, the ones that make us feel most weak and vulnerable.  And this is my rupture: above all else, above the things that make me feel marginalized and disempowered and oppressed, it’s when I am a daughter that I feel the most silenced.

what’s love got to do with taxes?

Here’s the latest drama in my life.

A few weeks ago my mother called to tell me that a 1099 form had arrived from my summer employment, and she wanted me to mail her my two W-2 forms so she could do my taxes with her own.  However, since graduation will be upon me soon, I’ve been dabbling in this thing I like to call “being a grown up,” so I asked her to send me the form so that I could file my taxes on my own.

Fast forward to this weekend: I’m TurboTaxing away, I get to the part where I input my 1099 information, and I find out that my 1099 MISC has rendered me indebted to the government.  What I had going on this summer was an internship, but according to box 7 of my 1099 MISC, my stipend was actually “nonemployee compensation”.  Which means that I was self-employed.  Which means I now owe $652 in taxes that I did not pay.  Um, that is not okay.

So what is likely going to happen is that I’m going to send these forms back to my mother, she’s going to take time out of her busy life to hit up her CPA again, and this person will (hopefully) work some magic.  Cross your fingers.

So, what’s love got to do with taxes?

Let’s start with lessons learned:

01.  Stop trying to be independent and self-sufficient all the time.  Re-examine what these things mean.
02.  Love isn’t always about trying to lessen someone else’s burden; it can mean admitting that you can’t do everything on your own and accepting help from those who offer.

I think I’ve always had a romanticized understanding of self-sufficiency.  In many ways, I do believe that financial independence is important and achievable for me.  But lately, I’ve been thinking that my aspirations to become a “real grown up” may actually contradict my beliefs around community building and organizing.  Much of this thinking has been spurred by an essay that I read recently, in which Mia Mingus discusses the power of interdependency as a tool for movement building.  Interdependence is about solidarity, community, and thinking beyond ourselves, our family units, our various personal relationships.  Most importantly, it’s about letting go of the myth of independence, which is the idea “that somehow we can and should be able to do everything on our own with out any help from anyone.”

It’s pretty easy to fall into the belief that the ultimate measure of success is being able to survive without anyone’s help, especially when you have felt marginalized and helpless and disempowered.  Being able to rely only on yourself (which really, hardly ever happens) then feels like sticking it to the man, proving your worth.  But this assumes that everyone should be able to do everything, that we even need to prove ourselves to anyone, and those are harmful assumptions to make that ultimately undercut our efforts to build strong and sustainable communities.

I mean, let’s just own up to the fact that we are better together.

PS.  My mom ended up doing my taxes anyway.  I’m getting a $12 tax return.