Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stronger - Part II

When I talk to people, I tend to be very open. I generally have no qualms talking about my past or embarrassing moments or periods of strife. I share them because I have nothing to hide, and often, I don't care what the listener thinks about what I am saying or about who I am, as a person. I'm me and I try not to apologize for it too often.

Because I am an open person, people tend to be open with me in return. They tell me secrets and know that I won't tell anyone. I generally don't judge. And often, I've gone through something similar so I can empathize.

And because of the fact that people feel comfortable with me, they often come to consider me as a close friend and confidante. And cold as this may seem, I often see them as no more than an acquaintance.

That being said, I know that I am blessed. Despite my somewhat aloof take on "friendship," as I've aged, I've managed to collect a group of friends on whom I know that I can rely if I so choose. They don't judge me. They love me for me. And if I so needed it, they'd fly to the ends of the universe for me. I haven't seen many of those people in years. I rarely talk to them.

Any of my many acquaintances, I believe, would also be there for me if I asked them to be. The offers are there and I appreciate them. But as I've mentioned before, as open as I am, I find that I have a hard time talking out my frustrations. I don't like "burdening" people -- yes, yes, I know many of you are shaking your heads and denying that my venting would be a burden at all.

Today, I remembered part of the reason why I don't generally open up with regards to what's really bothering me. I remembered why I choose to blog instead of chat or talk to someone living. It's because my blog won't slam the door in my face, on purpose or not.

I mentioned to a friend today that I'd been depressed. My friend read my previous blog posting and I decided that I'd discuss my present state of emotion with him. His response? "Stop emo'ing." Heh. Stop emo'ing.

Of course he's right. I *am* being overly emotional. That's part of my frustration and I admit to that. But that's not what I needed. I didn't need someone to throw my emotion back in my face when I decided to make myself vulnerable. I didn't need my concerns belittled or made light of.

I know that my frustrations are nothing in the grand scheme of things. That's yet another reason I don't often bring them up.

I told him that I lack a good support system. My best friends are not here (and I refuse to lean on them for such minor things -- although they'd welcome it). My friends that are here often don't understand where I'm coming from (or do, but don't react the way I need them to). My family has their own stresses (and often, manage to make me feel worse). And so I'm left with my cat, my blog, and myself.

My cat's insane. So scratch that.

All the openness in the world and all I can do is talk to no one but this small virtual space in an endless virtual world. I just hope it doesn't slam the door in my face.



The last week and a half or so, I haven't had much opportunity to chat online with Yoshi. It seems I have the worst luck of it. If I wake up at 3 or 4 am, he doesn't come online. If he comes online later in the day, I'm either out of the house or at work. If I'm at work and happen to have meebo on, I'll be away from my desk when he IMs me and he'll be gone by the time I return. And this morning, I woke up late with a start (by late I mean 5:30 am) to realize he'd been on for two hours and that Kira had put my computer on mute so I didn't hear the AIM sound that is specific to Yoshi when he logs on.

And right when I came on to say hi, he said he had to go.

And I burst into tears.

And now I'm depressed.

As many of you know, I've had bouts of anti-social behavior since he's been gone. But today is the first time in the two months he's been in Kuwait that I feel as though I'm having an emotional breakdown because of his absence. This is the first time I really cried since dropping him off that rainy night at Schofield.

And I feel like shit.

And all of this feels silly to some extent because it's not like we haven't spent time apart before. I went to college in Japan and Massachusetts and was basically gone for those four years, with just a few return trips here and there. But I think this is different.

Maybe because this time, he's unhappy about being away. He isn't there by choice, but by obligation. He's unhappy and there's nothing I can do about it. And that sucks.

Maybe it's just the frustration of knowing that I have the opportunity to have contact with him right at my fingertips and because of my luck, I can't seem to make it happen.

Maybe it's because I'm just pathetic and needy.

Well, whatever it is, I'm sitting in my room at 5:45 am in tears that won't seem to stop -- ignoring a hungry, whining Kira.

Stupid emotional breakdown. Go away already. I'm supposed to be stronger than this...


P.S. I just realized that our "anniversary" is on Sunday. *sigh*

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Racial (In)Sensitivity, ESL, and My Own Racism

A highschool friend, MJ, a young, bright, beautiful Filipina woman posted an article as a bulletin on MySpace this morning that was originally posted in the Star Bulletin (a local paper). The article, entitled ‘Housewives’ angers Filipinos in medicine (original article) stated that a racist comment was made on the popular show, Desperate Housewives, that has the US Filipino community up in arms.

The quote:

When a gynecologist suggested Terri Hatcher's character (Susan) might be reaching menopause, she said: "Can I just check those diplomas because I just want to make sure that they are not from some med school in the Philippines."

While I agree that this is, indeed, an inappropriate and offensive thing to say, I think that this, like many "racial issues," may be taken too far. ABC, Inc. (my former employer, heh) has issued a formal apology for its stupidity. After receiving notice from the Filipino community that they had pissed a lot of people off, they recognized their insensitivity and tried to make amends. But apparently, sorry isn't enough.

The Filipino community wants more. They want ABC to "... produce shows recognizing Filipino [contribution to society]" ... or else.

I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. There are tons of ethnicities, minority and otherwise, who have contributed to making this world what it is... who have helped the world move forward... and not everyone gets a show about their ethnic triumphs on primetime. To demand such a thing is ludicrous. Where does an ethnic group get off making such a demand? Are their contributions to society that much more important than everyone else's? Isn't that a bit elitist and self-important and quite possibly... racist?

I guess racial insensitivity doesn't stop at big corporate productions.

Furthermore, I'd like to point out that one of the statements quoted in the article from a Dr. Fernando Ona (who I am sure is a bright gentleman with a great education) makes absolutely no sense. "[It was a]... reprehensible insult to the racial diversity... of doctors of Filipino ancestry."

I'm sorry. What?!

Ignoring the fact that there is only the human race and everything else breaks down into ethnicities, doesn't "racial diversity of doctors of Filipino ancestry" seem to contradict itself? Or is that just me being nit picky and looking too closely at semantics? What is he trying to say? Granted, I've cut up the quote a bit, but even in its entirety, the meaning is lost.

Can anyone explain this to me?

In talking to another close friend of Filipino ancestry, when I brought this quote to his attention, he told me that, "...one thing I think is common with 'educated' Filipinos is that they have a tendency to want to use 'big' words and 'flowery' phrases...that don't necessarily make sense. It's part of the Filipino culture to be flamboyant...not in a malicious or mean-spirited way, but it's just their way."

My response?
But that makes them look stupid.

And I'm sorry, but his saying that DOES make him look stupid. And if that's the norm, no wonder the editors and writers for 'Desperate Housewives' let that quote slide. While it's never good to base things on stereotypes, they exist for a reason. And that reason is that there is some truth to it.

I'm horrible. I know. And I know that lots of people use big words inappropriately. It's not just Filipinos. I want to say that people who learn English as a second language do it more often than most because they want to demonstrate (often subconsciously) their true fluency and harness of the English language. I want to say it, but hell, I know LOTS of English as a FIRST language speakers who butcher English all the time, in ignorance. I'm sure I'm one of them (although technically Thai was my first language... I don't remember a lick of it). But I think it's just more blatant when the speaker doesn't have English as their mother-tongue.

I personally am of the mind that everyone's a little bit racist. (Ha! Avenue Q was right.) I am no exception. I know that I am quite racist, and unfortunately, because I went to a high school where I was the minority in a world of what was often called "Little Manila," one of the ethnic groups toward which I harbor the most animosity is Filipinos. Ignore the fact that some of the people I love most are Filipino. Heh. (*Waves at all my Filipino friends who KNOW I am often anti-Filipino*)

And it is because I have always felt that the Hawaii Filipino community is too self-engrossed, too close-minded, and too culture-centric. I think it's healthy to remember where you come from. To have ethnic pride. But what about welcoming other cultures and learning from them and embracing them? What about expanding one's world and accepting that people are different and stopping the jamming of your own culture down someone else's throat until they gag?

It's not happy to gag on someone else's culture.

Mind you, this all coming from a girl who knows well not to eat the chocolate pork, but to steal all the banana lumpia, who understands what it's like to pack and ship balikbayan boxes to the family, who loves patis, who laughs at the barrel man, who has sung "Dahil Sayo," who has done tinikling in two states, who has gotten into a fist fight for not being Pinay and to DEFEND Pinay, who has taken friends to get Alibata tattoos, who looks for the Fork & Spoon, the Last Supper, and plastic runners when she goes into a Filipino house, and who understands the meaning of "Mahal Kita."


Monday, October 22, 2007

Work, Weariness, and Muffin Wars

Since I began working at The Honolulu Advertiser on October 9 as the Online Coordinator for cars.com, many of you have asked me how it's going. Rather than continuing to answer you all individually, I'm going to take the lazy way out and do a mass answer here. Work is fine.

Originally, I was at a loss as to what I'd actually be doing. My first week was filled primarily with reading about the cars.com product and becoming familiar with some of the technical aspects of the position. Basically, to sum up, I'm technical support for the car dealerships who utilize the cars.com product via www.honoluluadvertiser.com and the liason between clients, our sales staff, and cars.com support.

The work itself has been, for the most part, rather easy. It's mostly about handling personalities and putting out fires. In that sense, it's not much different that Lost or PacRim Marketing Group. It comes down to making people happy. I think I can do that effectively.

My co-workers seem to be a neat group of people. The Online Department is comprised of 12 people, including myself. 8 men. 4 women. My manager is a brilliant woman who I'm convinced is smarter than me by far. I don't meet people like that often, so I love it. I'm of the general mind that most people are stupid (how's that for condescension and modesty), so it's always a thrill to find someone who is on equal footing or who can overstep me. Well, at least that's how it is with me... heh. And I think a good percentage of my coworkers can fall into the equal footing category, so I'm excited.

I've begun decorating my half-cubicle. I have my Yoda head, a few lava lamps left there from the previous employee, and a few pictures. If any of you have anything you want to add to my display area, feel free. I have lots of space left.

In other news, I'm tired. MAN am I tired. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I wake up at 4 am everyday to talk to Yoshi. Which is fine. And I love that I get the opportunity to talk to him. But waking up at 4 am, going to work, going to work out, and then coming home and basically NOT SLEEPING WELL is beginning to kick my ass. I'm no longer having nightmares, so that's a plus. But I'm still waking up every 20 - 40 minutes. I wonder what's on my mind that is making me sleep (or not sleep) that way. It's slowly killing me. I just hope it doesn't affect me on the job. I wake up each day completely exhausted.

And I think I'm getting sick. Shit.

So, that basically updates two of the three topics from my last blog. Last one? Self-image. I'm fat. Shut up. I know, I know. I'm NOT fat. But gunfunnit, I AM fat. Since high school, I've gained at least 30 lbs. I don't fit into the majority of my clothes and can't afford to (and don't want to) buy a completely new wardrobe that'll fit my fluffy body.

A few weeks ago, in looking through some old photos, I finally realized how frickin' disgusting I look in comparison to the younger, more fit me of years past. So I joined 24 Hour Fitness. And work out at least 4 times a week. My goal? To lose at LEAST 20 lbs. (ideally 30) or 10% of my body fat by the end of February.

I've called this my "Muffin Wars," in reference to the ever hated "muffin top" that I've seemed to develop. For those of you who are not familiar with this term, "muffin top" refers to the belly fats that folds over the edge of one's pants as a muffin top would "bloop" (sorry for the sound effect) over the muffin's paper cup.

Here is a visual:

That's my goal... and whether or not I'm achieving it is a completely different thing. Because I've GAINED weight.... please let it be muscle weight. Bleh. So if any of you have a 24 membership and want to work out in the evenings, call me. Rob's been good about coming with me, but I need all the support I can get.

Help me combat the evil that is the muffin top. Join me in my Muffin Wars.

And then maybe the self-image issue will fix itself. Let's hope so.