“You teach us how to stay.”

My friend messaged screenshots of Chani Nicholas’s horoscopes for the week, and it was what I needed tonight:

Taurus, you teach us to see life through. You teach us to steady ourselves in our bodies. You teach us the patience of the ancient ones.

You teach us how to stay.

Focused. Far-sighted. Formidable. You know how to build. You know how to show up. Relentlessly. Too stubborn to give up on what is. Too hearty of heart to give up on our collective potential. You hold the ultimate medicine for winning.

Patience.

You know how to stay. In it. No matter how difficult. Through thick. Through thin. Through thousands of broken promises. You know how to focus on what is still good. Still worth watching. Still worth growing. Still worth feeding.

Your loyalty to life cannot be questioned. 

This year, we’ll need you to teach us how to make a feast out of the seeds we have to sow. This year we’ll need you to teach us to take it slow, focusing on the task at hand. This year we’ll need you to teach us how to till the earth of our lives, so that we take into account the perspective of the seasons. This year and in years to come, we’ll need you to teach us how to move from instant gratification to an appreciation of what can be cultivated long-term.

In return, we’ll help you to adjust. We’ll remind you to release. We’ll help you to move on from what cannot be carried on. We’ll help you to make room for the new life and the new ways we’ll have to adapt to in order to settle into this unsettling struggle we are now in.

Grateful for friends for reminding me what’s good.

–Nikki

I’m in a daze.

I got home after dinner and the workshop, took a hot shower, and passed out naked, rolled up in my little blanket burrito. That I put underwear on, am typing this up to meet my daily post quota, and am eating the second half of my sandwich from earlier is impressive.

This week was hard–but not in a bad way? I think hard in a way that I had to make sure I was taking care of myself physically, listening to what my body and my heart needed. And I think I’ve been doing my best to be there for other people, but in those times when I give that support, in a way that feels intense and somewhat manic, it’s usually because I’m also avoiding doing that for myself. So tomorrow is going to be a day of soup and reflection and finally fucking finishing “Atlanta”.

Read with me:
– “Dev Hynes: New York’s Last Bohemian on the City and His New Album”
– “Duterte’s Talks with NDF: The Meat of the Matter” by Teddy Casiño
– “Here’s How We Prepare to Be Ungovernable in 2017” by Sarah Lazare

Listen with me:

Three Things 1/12/17 (I am so tired.)

  1. Today was the first time the girls said “Good night, I love you” when I left for the day. Been hard trying to contend with the contradictions surrounding the work I do and the love I have for them, and I’m trying to find the ways in which to articulate them. But I know I love them even at times when the little one decides to smack her butt and “pretend spit” at me when I’m trying to put her clothes on after bath time.
  2. I’m currently sitting on my parents’ bathroom floor, eating a beef bowl and drinking from a two-liter bottle of soda, as I type this, and you know what? Whatever. To be assessed tomorrow.
  3. I spent a lot of time walking and listening to Coloring Book today. I can’t complain. I walked through Washington Square Park twice and–AND–I got to see so many pigeons.The walk from the bus stop to my parents’ home is a little more than ten minutes and it’s one of my favorite walks when it’s taken late at night and no one’s around (loljk the state is always watching). And I slowed my pace a bit (even though it started drizzling a bit), walked along the middle of the road (no cars), and sang to “Same Drugs” on loop (no people).

    I don’t know. No incite from that. Just grateful for today, grateful for kasamas, grateful for my girls.

Don’t Tell me ‘Don’t’

First Love/Late Spring | Mitski

“The black hole
Of the
Window
Where you sleep”

I remember last winter lying next to you in bed. It was snowing. It was warm in your room. With the head of the bed close to the window, you can smell whatever was being made in the baking company next door. And despite being surrounded by so much warmth, I saw giving in to it, being lulled to sleep, as defeat. I wanted the loneliness, ‘the blues,’ to paralyze me awake. And so I sat up in bed, knowing it would stir you awake, wishing I could be anywhere else but there. The room was dark, and I wanted darker. And I think the ‘darker’ I wanted felt a lot like wanting to be on a ledge.

“The night breeze
Carries
Something sweet
A peach tree”

“Happiness is messy and the thing that’s messy about it is that it can’t last. Even when I’m having a really good time there’s something in the back of my head going, Okay, something wrong is going to come. I wrote it because I was thinking, I just want to not feel anything because that would be so much cleaner, so much more balanced, so much easier if I could just not go up and down and just go straight forward all the time.”

“Wild women don’t get the blues
But I find that
Lately I’ve been crying like a
Tall child”

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“So please hurry leave me
I can’t breathe
Please don’t say you love me
Mune ga hachikire-sōde”

I think I will spend the rest of my life finding the words to describe the hunger in needing someone so much at the expense of myself, the will to destroy myself, to wither away, because I had not one ounce of love for myself.

“One word from you and I would
Jump off of this
Ledge I’m on
Baby”

I wanted to leave. Maybe find a place that matched whatever I was feeling inside better than where I was. You asked, “What’s wrong?” and of course I said, “Nothing.” And you went back to sleep.

“Tell me ‘don’t’ 
So I can
Crawl back in”

And so I crawled back in lied back down.

“And I was so young
When I behaved
Twenty-five”

It took me so long to realize what this meant.

“Yet now I find
I’ve grown into
A tall child”

When I think back to that night when I sat up in bed, I can’t help but think about the times when I had trouble sleeping when I was little, maybe around four or five, and I would cry and cry, lying in the dark, until I would be scooped up in my parents’ arms and be lulled to sleep with a hum or a lullaby.

And I think about these things in relation not because in both instances I wanted to be scooped up and cooed at as much as that, in both instances, I felt so small. And I think that’s the hardest thing with feelings and especially feelings in the dark: you feel so utterly helpless and powerless to these things that feel like could just swallow you whole.

“And I don’t wanna go home yet
Let me walk to the top of the big night sky”

“There are times where the world, my head–everything–just feels so fucking loud. And not even the idea of home feels comforting, it rather being something I would run away from than return to because I would rather go anywhere else if home meant returning to me.

I just want peace in the big and empty.”

-2016

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“Please hurry leave me
I can’t breathe
Please don’t say you love me
Mune ga hachikire-sōde”

There’s this song called “Somehow.” by a band called Phony Ppl that I thought was this gentle little love song dedicated to some person that the narrator “somehow” keeps on managing/fighting to love.

But it’s not really an “outward” expression of love as it is one that’s “inward.”

And the indignation I had in now trying to reframe the song as one about self-love for the sake of survival reflected the indignation I had–and have had for a long fucking time–towards trying to love myself.

Loving someone so you can avoid the work of loving yourself is a trap. You will inevitably sink.

And I did. But I came up.

“One word from you and I would
Jump off of this
Ledge I’m on
Baby”

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But this isn’t to say that the temptation to love at the expense of my own destruction hasn’t gone away. A trap is a trap.

“Tell me ‘don’t’
So I can
Crawl back in” 

But I refuse to crawl anymore.

“One word from you and I would
Jump off of this
Ledge I’m on
Baby”

“You will give everything you have and accept nothing in return and tell yourself that the dull ache of the void is better than being full on life, better than feeling too much. But you will find yourself sitting in the warm bathwater, night after night, and learn that even the empty sink; in fact, they sink faster.”

“Anak, don’t do this again, okay? We only have each other. We need you, anak. You’ll be okay.”

“Tell me ‘don’t’
So I can
Crawl back in”

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I am learning how to no longer need someone to tell me ‘don’t.’

My tabs are out of control.

Read with me.

  1. “No! to Rape Culture: Indigenize Hardcore & Punk”
  2. “The Power of Solange’s Proudly Unconventional Style” by Jazmine Hughes
  3. “Is Duterte Fascist?” by Karlo Mongaya
  4. “Beyond the Non Profit Industrial Complex” by INCITE!
  5. “The Great Pax Whitie” by Nikki Giovanni
  6. “Poem For A Lady Whose Voice I Like” by Nikki Giovanni
  7. “Black Like Mao: Red China and Black Revolution” by Robin D.G. Kelley and Betsy Esche
  8. “Punk Trump” by Zachary Lipez
  9. “Sakadas bare ‘slave-like conditions’ in Hacienda Luisita” by Ronalyn V. Olea
  10. “White People Need a Non-White Jesus” by Drew Miller
  11. “From Tape Drives to Memory Orbs, the Data Formats of Star Wars Suck” by Sarah Jeong

I’m kind of bummed I didn’t get to write content today, but tomorrow’s another day.

Five Things 1/7/17

  1. Okay no more consecutive nights of drinking. Trying to mitigate the damage with all the water right now.
  1. I was going through my journal entries from the hospital earlier, and I found one where I logged all the food guests brought when they visited me, which is, to be real, the most ‘me’ thing I could do:
    5/25/16
              Virginia: Coffee doughnut and chocolate cookie
              Laura: Mango bubble tea
              Dad: Roast beef sandwich
              Katrina: Mama’s Empanadas (THE HOMIE)
              Mike and Chrissi: Sprinkles cupcake
              Amanda: Green tea cream puff
              Tita Jo: Torta
              Alex and Zoe: McDonald’s chicken nuggets
              Dad: Goat & rice

    When I stayed at the psych unit, guests were allowed to bring food and snacks when they visited me, but none of it could stay in my room for safety precautions. So it either had to be thrown out or put in the fridge which they locked up between mealtimes.But almost, if not all, my friends, kasamas, and family came bearing food.

    So there was a lot of it.

    And not only could I not finish it–I didn’t really want to because I wanted to savor the shit out of my green tea cream puff rather than scarf it down, thank you.

    I remember having hella torta (please make some, k thnx) that my tita made and an overwhelming amount of pastries (and a sandwich) that I didn’t want to put in the fridge because it would have been such a pain to get whenever I would want to eat and because I knew none of it would sit well in the fridge. So, I did what any other reasonable person would do:

    I hid the pastries behind my books in the open shelf next to my desk and the roast beef sandwich under my pillow.

    And with all the excess of food, I ended up having a pastry/snack black market (that really was just folks dropping by and asking if there was anything good today) in the unit because what good was it if I couldn’t share and enjoy it with folks there that were struggling as much as, or even more than, I was.

    I remember one night going to bed right after I took my sedative meds for the night, my head hitting the pillow as well as the very hard plastic container of the roast beef sandwich that my dad brought that morning. So, I did what any other reasonable person would do:

    I ate it.

    The nurses would do rounds to each room about every half-hour to an hour to check in on patients. And I remember how indiscreetly my dumb ass was eating that sandwich in my bed, in the dark, and then the nurse coming in abruptly while I was mid-bite.

    But, by the grace of God the darkness of the room, he didn’t see me. And so I finished the rest of my sandwich, put the crusts back in the plastic container, and placed it carefully in the garbage, making sure it couldn’t be seen when trash was collected in the morning.

  2. Tomorrow’s the first general assembly of the year, and I’m scared shitless.
  3. But may the agitating words of Lorena Barros ground me:

    “The new Filipina is one who can stay whole days and nights with striking workers, learning from them the social realities which her bourgeois education has kept from her. This means that she is also ready to picket for hours under the sun, ready to throw herself in front of a truck bearing scabs or materials for the factory’s machines to prevent it from breaking the picket line.”

     

  4. My anxiety’s been pretty high these past few days, but I haven’t been as afraid of my thoughts or feelings thanks to music that’s helped me realize that as big and scary as my feelings may be, they’re not going to kill me. So: a very short playlist that makes being “in your head” feel kind of safe:
    • “First Love/Late Spring”| Mitski
    • “Pink + White” | Frank Ocean
    • “Shadow Man” | NoName
    • “UltraLight Beam” | Kanye West (Because it can’t be denied.)
    • “Moon River” | Audrey Hepburn
    • “Best to You” | Blood Orange
    • “Somehow” | Phony Ppl
    • “Chasing Shadows” | Santigold
    • “Demon” | Shamir
    • “Two-Headed Boy” | Neutral Milk Hotel

[X] would like to FaceTime

“Yeah, he just left.”

“Ah.”

“This sucks.”

My face was all puffy, allergic to all the dust floating around from the cleaning and unpacking, but, in the context of the conversation, he thought I was about to have a meltdown.

“Are you about to cry? Oh no, don’t cry. Please don’t cry. This is so awkward. I feel like I should hug you but I can’t because…constraints.”

“Technology—its possibilities and its limits.”

He laughed apologetically.

A moment of quiet.

“I’m sorry.”

“Ah, it’s okay. It’ll be okay.”

First part I knew was true. The last part was too but I was not in the place to give it much credence. Sometimes you need to give your feelings a container and statements like “It’ll be okay” can help you find the four walls, the floor, the ceiling. Containing them to show that they have limits, that they’re not bigger than you.

“It’ll be okay.”

Both of us didn’t say anything for a moment, neither of us paying attention to our cameras.

“I—I just—it’s so easy to think that the universe is trying to tell me that I’m a bad person.”

“Wait—what?”

That caught his attention.

”What are you talking about?”

“It’s like the universe is telling me, ‘You don’t deserve this thing! Ha!’ Like some fucked-up karmic energy or something.”

“I think the universe is telling you to do your fucking papers.”

I grunted.

“…And I don’t think the universe is trying as hard as you think.”

“Wait—what do you mean?” I didn’t know what he meant, and I felt the need to be defensive.

He eased. Chuckling, his eyes having already broken contact with the camera, scrolling through whatever was on his laptop screen: “I mean that I don’t think it’s out to get you like you think it is.”

Sometimes it infuriates me how fucking right he can be and how he says the right fucking thing at the moment when I am most ready to receive the fucking right-ness of it. And he was right. I wasn’t the universe’s victim. I’m not a victim, period. If I really was—and if the universe was really out to get me—I’d probably have died seven months ago, just as I thought I wanted.

I am sticky from this heat. My left eye is pink and puffy, and I’m afraid that I’m going to get pink eye because I lack self-control and kept rubbing it with the hands that I didn’t wash after cleaning the floor. I feel my belly fold in itself as I’m sitting hunched over on my bed, feeling it fold and unfold as I breathe. My stray bangs are tickling both my eyes, further irritating the puffy, pink eye.

If I was a victim, I wouldn’t be struggling with myself to contain these feelings–to give them a home.

I wouldn’t be listening to the power of the stickiness, the itchiness, the breathing–it all reminding me how alive I am, asking that I honor it.

“You good?”

“Yeah. All good. My eye’s just itchy.”

DANICA’S GONNA GRADUATE IN 2K17//Forgiveness: A Walkthrough

I have less than four weeks to write four papers that stand between me and finally graduating. 2K16 was a year of self-destruction, but 2K17 is about rebuilding, remolding, and blooming from where I’m at.

Anyway, I’m gonna model my plan-of-action like a poorly-imagined video game walkthrough because I’m running low on ideas on how I can make this at least a little bit worth my time.

Twenty-five days. Five papers. Twenty-eight pages. An email to be sent over a lost prompt. 

WORLD: FINNEGANS WAKE // BOSS: …FINNEGANS WAKE BY JAMES JOYCE

finnegans-wake1

So a white man intentionally wrote gibberish in a book that is now claimed to be one of the greatest works in Eurocentric literary canon. What else is new.

This isn’t a conventional video game where the bosses throughout get increasingly difficult. This time the first boss is the most difficult one because, here, it’s necessary to knock out the biggest, hardest one first before even getting through the others.

This one’s the biggest–or rather, longest, at a hefty twenty pages. And twenty pages is a lot to write about something you are totally disinterested in. Things you have to be mindful of when you beat this boss are: A. your total disdain for this book in all its difficulty B. your political snobbery (because yeah, this book sucks, Eurocentric literature sucks, but you know what–you refusing to do this paper is not fulfilling any transformative political objective. You can’t get your degree until you write this paper so just do it, goddammit.).

What will help you defeat this boss is not randomly smashing whatever buttons are on your controller, hoping that some random combination of buttons will get you a critical hit. You gotta break it down into parts–maybe three? Four? (Then four-five pages for each part). Take it part by part, focusing on defeating each before you can move on to the next.

BUT you gotta know your parts first. (This shit may not make make sense without knowing context of the book, so bare with me.)

One part is an examination of Question #4 in the game show as it highlights the gendered and sexualized ways in which colonialism is imposed onto its subjects/how land is viewed in a gendered/sexualized way. Another part is on Tristan & Isolde (not really sure what your analytical stance is on this yet, but it’ll get figured out through outside research). Another is on Shem as a reflection of Joyce (whatever), and the other is on ALP’s soliloquy because honestly it’s the only thing worth reading and looking into throughout the whole damn thing.

What’s especially tricky with this one is that’s it’s pretty unclear what your thesis is. You need to find it, but you can only do that at this point by writing playing.


WORLD: WESTERN BACKGROUNDS // BOSS #1: DANTE’S INFERNO

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To be honest, this one isn’t so bad because Dante’s Inferno is pretty punk. You know, going through hell and shit. Meeting some literary OG’s only to find out they’re in one circle or another. This one isn’t a pain to read or write about, but the issue is that you haven’t finished reading it. And you need to fight your habit of reading everything front-to-back because it’s leading to your demise.

You’re really slow at writing papers–especially when it comes to research and quote analysis. You write down/type out all the quotes from works you think could potentially be useful (there’s something terrifying to you about reading a quote you think is useful, moving on without writing down, wanting to use that quote later, but not. being. able. to. find. it.) and so paper writing is like putting together a puzzle–or at least that’s what it feels like as you’re doing it–where you’re fitting quotes in different places and trying to make it all work.

So this one is not so much about patience but about efficiency  and also someone lighting a fire under your ass because you don’t need seven pages of quotes for only six pages of content. And you don’t need to read it front-to-back in order to make your point. A defeated boss is a defeated boss.


WORLD: STILL WESTERN BACKGROUNDS // BOSS #2: CORIALANUS? CORIALANIS? CORIOLANUS (I needed to Google for correct spelling)

cor-tease

Yeah, sorry, you’re not done with this world yet.

You only watched the movie because of who you are as a person. You have no walkthrough for this one except that you should actually read the play?

Ok and maybe the prompt will help: “Coriolanus the character identifies then dis-identifies with different forces–governments, individuals, blocs of power, class formations and class based allies, his Mother. Construct an argument that charts an aspect of this identification/dis-identification in the play. Remember you have to actually define how you are understanding identification/dis-identification in the work.”

You should’ve chosen to write on the Bible instead, goddammit.


WORLD: MONEY, SEXUALITY, AND RACE

FINAL BOSS: MEMO ON LABOR EXPORT POLICY IN THE PHILIPPINES

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Is there anything more terrifying than a blank email.

I may have lied. This might actually be the most difficult boss.

So technically this one should be the easiest one because it’s on a topic that you care about and have a strong analytical position since it’s one you engage with in your organizing/political work.

But *deep breath* no.

Because turns out you don’t have the prompt. You went to check your BlackBoard account two weeks ago to download the prompt only to find that that your professor took down the class soon after it was over last spring (a former classmate informed you after asking her if, by some grace of God, she had the it). And since then, you’ve been panicking, ruminating, wasting emotional and mental energy that could be productively channeled toward other things, like, I don’t know, writing your papers on what you can do, when you know the only thing you can do is email your professor.

And You! don’t! want! to! Because: guilt, shame, fear.

You feel guilty for putting off papers for long when, really, you needed this time to focus on genuinely taking care of yourself by going through therapy, by reintegrating back into your communities and organizing work.

You feel ashamed for asking because you shouldn’t be asking for a prompt. You should have gotten them done. But you weren’t in a place to do that. You were sick. You needed help. You needed to become healthy again.

And you feel afraid for being rejected but, if you are, then so what? Then you bite the bullet, take another class, graduate, and move on.

You’ve spent a lot of life equating who you are as a person to who you are as a student. Based on what grades you brought home, you often felt like how good of a kid you were depended on how good of a student you were. You let arbitrary numbers and letters to not only validate your self-worth but have allowed them to dictate your goodness (Catholic school fucks you up real good, in case you didn’t already know.) And even “good students” need a break sometimes.

You can look at these past few months as all this time that you have chosen not to finish your papers right? But choose not to. That won’t help you win.

These past few months have been as incredible as they have been difficult. You have sat through hell by sitting with yourself, in all your shit, in all your ugly, in all your messy. And in doing that you have found an indispensable strength, a deeper sense of gentility and tenderness that you have been so ready to give and maybe even impose on so many others but are now learning how to extend to yourself.

You are learning to forgive yourself.

So this final boss–it’s not about the paper. It’s not even really about the mail, but maybe what it represents for you–this fear of rejection, of mistakes, of genuinely fucking up and having to forgive yourself for fucking up. Because remolding as a a friend, a daughter, a comrade, a person–it takes some fucking up along the way to get it right.

So forgive yourself–now, for where you’re at, and for whatever happens between now and February 1st.

And then go send that fucking email.

A Call to Action, a Book Wish List, and an Appreciation for Dad

A Call to Action:

Tomorrow there will be an action in Queens against the development of a megachurch (five. damn. stories.) that could lead to gentrification in Woodside, also known as Little Manila. We’re not here for development by government and private entities alike and their appropriation of space for middle- and upper-class folks but instead for development that is meant to serve the needs of the current working-class immigrant families of color that currently reside there. The community members themselves should have the power to determine what happens in/to their communities. For anyone or anything else to wield such power is a form of colonialism. Come through and support the Woodside community in defending itself against intervening, exploitative forces.

A Book Wish List:

  1. Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
  2. Dark Matters by Simone Brown
  3. Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays by Durga Chew-Bose
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  4. Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers Edited by Nick Carbó and Eileen Tabios
  5. Saga Vol. 1 Written by Brian Vaughan and Illustrated by Fiona Staples

An Appreciation for Dad:

I spent the entirety of the car ride going to therapy forcing letting my dad listen to Rihanna’s performances at the VMAs because I really wanted to share how great she was and just thought my dad should know, you know? Do you though? Because I really don’t know why I felt so inclined.

He listened patiently, kindly, said that he really liked the bass line there and her vocals there. (He was big fan of “Love on the Brain.” He has good taste, imo.) But I could tell that he wasn’t into it–not as much as he was into my being so excited to show him these videos.

So here’s appreciation for dad. For I only hope to listen and make room for people to talk about things they’re excited about like he does.

*B-B-B-BONUS ROUND***

Here’s a June Jordan quote, from her essay, “Civil Wars”:

“We are not powerless. We are indispensable despite all atrocities of the state and corporate policy to the contrary. At a minimum we have the power to stop cooperating with our enemies. We have the power to stop the courtesies and let the feelings be real. We have the power not to vote, and not to register for the draft, and not to applaud, and not to attend, and not to buy, and not to pay taxes or rent or utilities. At the very least, if we cannot control things we can certainly mess them up…

And in every instance, it has never been who is the leader but rather who are the people. It has never been what is the organization but what is the crisis.”

And no matter the crisis, the people are always the solution.

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Good night. Sleep well.

-Nik