Moment to moment, day to day. I have no idea what I’m doing now, or what I should be doing next, or why it is taking so long to finish the thing I am doing right now, which is applying foundation, after which I will apply blush, and then I will do my eyebrows, and then I will put on mascara, and then I will curl my hair, and by then I will be fucking dead because it is taking a million hours to do anything right now. I’m pushing through molasses, moment to moment, and everything is moving so slowly that by the time I am done doing what it is that I am doing I have forgotten what it is that I am supposed to do next. The room is spinning, but as of right now it is at a pleasant tilt-a-whirl, a vacation style dizzy. I don’t mind it too much, but then I remember that this is always what happens before I can’t stand up, and I can’t drive, and I can’t leave the house, so I should take care of this before it gets worse. Is it worse already? Also, what do I do to stop it from getting worse? Do I lie down and sleep all day or do I go outside and walk around? Oh, I’m supposed to take my medication. And, of course, for the life of me, cannot remember if I took it already! Should I take it again? Or should I just ride this one out. This is why I have a routine! This is why I stick to the routine! So that I can take it every morning and not be bothered with the nagging thoughts of did I or did I not take that medication already. Although, that’s the nature of anxiety – it disrupts every notion of routine and normalcy, and instead, I have been sitting here, applying foundation for twenty minutes, and I have no clue what comes next. I will probably just turn on the TV and not leave the house again today. Or tomorrow. Or for however long it takes for the fucking room to stop spinning.
Shopping for real estate in Oakland is a fucking trip. It has always been my dream to own property, and I thought that perhaps the pandemic and the recent tech relocations might make jumping into the market a bit more palatable. Wrong. Wrong! Price levelled off for a bit, but now they’re back to break neck heights again.
What struck me about this phenomenon is that there seems to be a disconnect from the beautifully staged, well lit homes I see on Zillow and the actual neighborhood where these houses are located. I was struck by this one three bedroom house that was right off 38th and International in Fruitvale. It was painted white with magenta trim, and the interior had been tastefully updated. At $500k, it was steep but I thought I’d see how much it sold for. I liked the house, but I also felt a pang of guilt as I kept revisiting – the last time I had been in that neighborhood had been a year and a half ago, with my ex, who grew up there. He had taken me to show me the block where he grew up, and he regaled me with stories of gang members, pimps, drug addicts, and the quotidian violence of living in East Oakland in the 90s. God, the house I liked was one block away from there. It occurred to me that there was something truly gross about that – I had literally held that man in my arms as he cried about the terrors of growing up in that neighborhood. He was psychologically traumatized by it. And I was going to move there? Oh, hell no. First of all, the price was pretty steep for me – why would I pay $3k/month just to be reminded of the atrocities of humanity? Secondly, what was I going to do, live there as a single woman? No, that would be dumb. I’m not a fucking mark, and I don’t want to be one. I’m not going to go out there and be the person that I loath the most: the gentrifier. I grew up in quiet, middle class Albany, California. I have no business being in East Oakland without an escort. Sure, there’s a part of me that likes the rough and tumble, doesn’t mind a bit of grit around edges. But, insanely enough, apparently that’s en vogue now, and the rough and tumble comes with a pretty steep premium. Look, I’m not dumb. I’m not going to be a part of the problem and also be broke as fuck at the same time. That sounds terrible! In retrospect, maybe I had no business living in West Oakland throughout my 20s, but I did it because I was broke. It was what I could afford. I couldn’t afford to live in San Francisco or even Berkeley. But now I can, so I do. Sure, I hope that all the black and brown people who lived through hell in East Oakland get cashed the fuck out, and, who knows, maybe other black and brown people are buying back the neighborhood. That would be great. But a part of me knows that isn’t the case for most of these home sales.
I looked at that house again today. I saw that it had sold. I looked at the price. Original asking price: $500,000. Sale price: $611,000. That’s more than ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS over asking price. God damn! One hundred thousand dollars. When I look at the numbers, six isn’t much more than five. But when I realize that it’s a difference of one hundred thousand dollars. Damn. That is A LOT of money. Just willy nilly, one hundred thousand dollars over asking price? Seriously? That much? I liked the house because I liked the colors on the outside, but I didn’t like it for half a million dollars. But somebody bought it for one hundred thousand dollars over that? God damn. Is this just how it is in the Bay Area now? Don’t get me started with West Oakland. It’s million dollar houses for as far as the eye can see and not a grocery store in sight. And the schools – I mean, I don’t have kids, nor do I plan on having kids, but the schools alone are such a point of consternation.
What is it that people are buying into when they buy property in Oakland? Are they buying into the idea that Oakland will one day be a beautiful city, free of crime and with great schools? Are they hoping it just turns into San Francisco Lite? I wanted to buy property in Oakland because I love it for what it is – flawed, sure, but scintillating and exciting. But I can’t afford to do that – which is fine. I didn’t grow up there, so it’s not a huge loss for me. I’ll just tuck my tail between my legs and go back to the burbs to live a nice, quiet, cheap life. It’s not that bad, really. Honestly, I’m surprised that people with money don’t want that for themselves. But maybe that’s the scam, and I should stop talking about it.
“You’re not going to emasculate him, are you?”
I finally sucked it up and told my mother that I’m getting married. After she asked all the usual questions, which I obfuscated, this one came.
“Emasculate him? Why would you ever think I would do a thing like that?”
“I’ve seen you with your other boyfriends. Remember that boyfriend you had when you were 18?”
“Oh, yeah, but, like, what did I do?”
“Wow, you really don’t know yourself, do you?”
“Well, yeah, I know myself, I was just curious what gave it away. Yeah, of course I emasculate my boyfriends, but you don’t even know the half of it. Guess I should learn how to hide that shit more.”
Yes, I am in an interracial relationship. But, then again, I’m always in an interracial relationship. That’s because I’m the product of two generations of interracial relationships, and the only way I could not be in an interracial relationship is if I were to date someone who were also half dutch, a quarter Filipino, and a quarter Mexican.
Everyone in my family is in interracial relationships. My father was white, and my mother is Filipina and Mexican. My mother’s parents had to leave California and go to Texas so they could get married because interracial marriage was illegal in California in the 1940s. My father, an only child, broke the blood line by marrying out of his race, and his mother threatened to commit suicide over it. (Bitch!) My oldest sister married a light skinned Creole guy, and my brother married a Mexican immigrant. We might have a white last name, but no one in my family is white. All the white people died.
But the rest of the world is not like this. It took me a long time to realize that people think dating outside their race is weird. Sure, here in the Bay Area people are pretty understanding about it. But not as understanding as you’d think. I’m here to snitch on that.
I’ve dated across the racial spectrum, but – guess what! There’s only one race that draws derisive comments. You know what I’m talking about. If you date a black guy, there’s always some sarcastic, winking comment that comes with it. Now, I would just like to state for the record that, no, it did not piss off my father when I had a black boyfriend, and I didn’t do it to try to piss him off. As stated above, my family’s not like that. Rather, I’m a narcissist, and I believe I should fuck the hottest guy in the room. Seeing as this is the Bay Area, which is very diverse, and I hang out at bars – well, hate to break it to you, but the white guy is never the hottest guy in the room, unless, of course, the room is completely empty.
The implication that dating a black man is a kink, a phase, or an act of rebellion is ludicrous and insulting. Anti-blackness is so pervasive in our society that when I (as a non-black person) am seen or known to associate romantically with a black person, people think it’s okay to throw casual anti-blackness my way, too. Even worse, they think I’m going to condone it by agreeing with them! As if I couldn’t be in a relationship with a person because I’m attracted to him and we get along. I don’t go up to people of color who date white people and make jabs about, “Oh, you’re only doing it for the white privilege run off you get from being in close proximity of a white person.” But maybe I should.
All I want is for people to be happy for me or mind their own damn business. Yes, I’m aware that interracial relationships are a point of contention in the black community, too, but it’s not really my place to speak on that. I’ll always advocate for people to date outside their race because, well, if people didn’t date outside their race I wouldn’t exist, my family wouldn’t exist, and I’d be forced to be single forever.
I can tell I’m getting a migraine because my automatic brain function isn’t syncing up with my vision. Or, you know when you move your hands to, say, adjust your glasses or scratch your nose? Your brain seamlessly syncs up the command to move your hand and the information that your eyes receive as that hand moves. Not with a migraine. I can always tell its coming because those two functions have fragmented, and there’s a lag time between me moving my hand and my conscious (rather than unconscious) brain processing what’s going on. It’s dizzying as fuck.
Then comes the aura. The aura in itself, which are basically static-y squiggly lines in the vision, are fine – it’s the accompanying symptoms that freak me out. First of all, I can’t read very well when I have aura. It’s less of an automatic brain function and more of a conscious cobbling together of memory in order to read things. I also can’t do things like drive because, oh boy, I cannot tell where the road is when I’m driving with aura. My reaction times slow down to a crawl. Sometimes I’ll just straight up hallucinate. Definitely can’t write things very intelligibly, and my ability to speak loses all of its eloquence, which for an eloquent person like me is very frustrating. Sometimes it gets so bad that I can’t even string together sentences. I basically start slurring my words despite being completely sober, and it’s pretty terrifying. Then there’s the numbness, which doesn’t always happen, but my fingers and hands and face will go completely numb sometimes. Of course my neck always hurts, and my sinuses, and then there’s also my stomach. From my stomach all the way down through the entire digestive system: total chaos. The reaction in my digestive system is never consistent, but it always hurts. I’ll spare you the graphic details of how bad it gets down there, but it gets bad. But what always gets me is my mood before it strikes. Yesterday, I was zipping through my options trading course, writing down complex mathematical equations and totally nailing it, right before it hit. I’ve been on super productive writing sprees right before the migraine hits. It’s almost euphoric – I’ll be partying it up, drinking nonstop, eating rich, fatty foods with nary a hangover in sight. Other times, I’m in the worst mood in my life. In a slow, creeping pain, fighting everyone and everything, ready to blow up my life because I feel like such absolute dog shit.
There’s a panoply of symptoms that plague me in a wild a variety of combinations that is always unpleasant. I can only deal with it by sleeping 14 hours a day until it gets better, and I can’t work, I can’t be around people, I can’t be in bright rooms. Sometimes this lasts up to seven days. Seven days! What a waste of time! And there’s no white knuckling my way through it. It’s like a Chinese finger trap – the harder I try to push my way through the pain, the more painful it becomes. All I can do is lie down until it passes, and then sometimes it just subsides and isn’t really gone. In the past, I used to let the migraines come and go, but now that the pandemic and working at home has given me the space to really sit with myself and my body – fuck that. This happens damn near every month, and it is disruptive as fuck. You know how much more I could do with my time and how much better my life would be without migraines? This isn’t just a monthly cyclical problem that I have learned to tolerate over time – although the masochistic side of me thought I just had to live like this. I don’t have to just live like this! So I’m not going to! We’ll see what happens if I can kick this shit.
I guess this is a confession. You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Two years ago, I was in a really feeble and unsubstantial relationship with my fake boyfriend, and I was side piecing with a dude who was ten years younger than me. It was fun (although, it was also the most stressful affair I have ever had for other reasons that will go unspecified), but I always knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that if the tables were turned and I found out my fake boyfriend were fucking a 22 year old, I would be fucking livid. I didn’t let this stop me from doing whatever the fuck I wanted, and now here we are, two years later, and I’m going to marry my [now] 23 year old. Life’s just crazy. It also occurred to me that I haven’t had a boyfriend in eleven years, but now here I am! A feyonce! I mean, just because I haven’t had a boyfriend in eleven years doesn’t mean I was getting it. I was definitely getting it. Nor does it mean that I wasn’t in relationships – I was definitely in some long, drawn out, complicated relationships with a couple of men whom I adoringly refer to as the ‘loves of my life.’ I just never called them my boyfriends. Fuck, my feyonce was never my boyfriend. I have sneaking suspicion that this is problematic. If a man were to just dick around in his relationships for a decade, never taking anyone seriously, running around town, and then suddenly married a woman ten years younger than him? Oh, hell no. I would not stand for that. But if I do it? That’s progress, baby! I think eventually someone will get mad at this double standard, and then I will feel like shit, but until then – fuck it. I already know I’m immature and emotionally vacuous, so that type of accusation can’t really hurt me.
This man eater is coming off the market, fellas! *wink wink* My 18 year old niece did note that her new uncle will be closer to her in age than to me. In fact, he’s younger than my oldest nephew. Maybe that’s weird? Whatever. I’m weird. I guess that’s just how I roll.
I hate it here, but I wouldn’t leave for all the money in the world. Probably because all the money in the world is here, and that’s part of why I hate it here. But regardless of the money – I’m not leaving. I can’t. Mostly because I’m afraid to find out who I would be if I took myself out of the context of this country. This state. This city. I don’t know who I’d be if I didn’t hate America. And by ‘hating America’ I mean in that special way that only Americans can be self loathing. This isn’t the poor outsiders, looking in, envious of what I have. This is me, looking at myself, enjoying everything that there is to enjoy about being an American, and being vitriolic nonetheless. Apparently no amount of privilege can cure the rancor in my heart. I hate this place because I don’t know how to love this place. There are too many logical fallacies contained within the idea of America. To love America is to pledge oneself blindly to its lies. To hate it is to see the flaws and fume. So I hate it here. But I’m not leaving. Not because I’m dead set on making it a better place – I’m not. I’m just taking up space here because, my god, it is convenient. Taking up space anywhere else just seems so inconvenient. These other countries with their other rules and their other laws. What if I move to a country where there’s something that I dislike – and, then, I won’t be home, so of course I will be miserable. I’m in love with the devil I know – I am comfortable with this apathetic discontent. I am at home with the hate in my heart. It is an elemental part of who I am. If I left, I would crumble. My ego would fold in on itself. Without the hate upon which so much of my personality and morality are built – I would vanish, in a puff. I am good at hating America. I excel at the hypocrisy of sneering at the systems that give me privilege. It is what I do best. And there’s nothing more American than that, is there? I, American. Center of the universe. I, the quintessential American. There is no one more American than me, because there is nothing more American than the solipsistic world view that all of this is me. Mine. Not yours. Mine. Hands off. Don’t touch this rotting corpse of a country – it is mine to devour. I am the most beautiful thing here. The star student. The favorite child. I am the scion of America, which I hate. This is all for me, me, me. Which is what every other American thinks – we are a nation of planets around which the rest of this galaxy rotates. We are a conundrum, a physically impossible idea, an absurdity. Maybe that’s what I hate about it. I hate thinking that all of this is for me, yet knowing that, perhaps, it might not be. I hate that I am both special and forgettable because I am an American. I hate that I live one of the best lives in the world, yet it is still not enough. I hate it here, but I refuse to leave.
“Why would I buy a woman flowers? A gift certificate to Best Buy is way better!”
I can’t help but scoff at my friend. He has no idea what he’s talking about. That there is something ephemeral and enchanting about flowers, something so impractical yet fundamentally romantic about flowers. Men often say things like this – like there is something unnoble about flowers, something disdainful and foolish about them. I feel sorry for them. That they cannot stop and smell the roses. Or see the beauty in small things and waning moments.
I like to buy flowers for my lovers. Just to be absurd. No one ever buys flowers for men, and perhaps that’s why they don’t understand them. But there is something practical about them, too. They are so beautiful. They brighten the room with color and fragrance. You can buy a bouquet for $15 – the same price as a mediocre bottle of wine, but flowers’ effect lasts longer, too.
Fruity. Floral. Sugary. Sweet. Pink, girly drinks. Ah, yes, the much maligned feminine palate. Often reduced to something oafish, unrefined, and ignorant. But this is a misconception. Women have more taste receptors on their tongues than men – their depth of taste is superior to men’s. Which means that the feminine palate is in fact a greater realm of the senses. The delicacy of flavor is wasted on men. Perhaps that’s why men don’t understand flowers – a whiff of oleander and jasmine on the undercurrent of a wine is lost. Instead, the masculine palate prides itself on flavors that hit you over the head – chipotle, black pepper, heat, smoke, peat, brine, saline, burnt oak, flesh.
But flavor, much like pleasure, knows no gender.
My favorite food is steak. Big, juicy, salty, peppery, fatty steak. Ribeye cut. Medium rare. Butter basted. Served with a side of cream spinach and fat glass of excellent red wine, ideally a cab but I’m open to something better if you got it. Light the candles. Get out the good silverware. Put on some music. Feed me steak. Give me luxury. If you love me, feed me steak, and I will love you back.
I was on a dating app recently, and when I told my match that steak was my favorite food, he replied with disdain, as if to say, ‘Of course, everyone’s favorite food is steak.’ Like I had picked the obvious answer. Like I was unoriginal. I forget what he said his favorite food was – people usually say tacos or sushi, which feels so safe. What’s the point of choosing comfort food as your favorite food. Why not pick something risky, something indulgent, something expensive and sexy. How can ‘tacos’ be someone’s favorite food? I can’t stand tacos – there is no fantasy in them. They have evolved into a catch all food, straying further and further from their point of origin, losing their cultural identity, becoming more like white bread and bologna every day. Time passes, and tacos become worse and worse. Made with bags full of industrially made flour tortillas. Topped with mild salsa scooped from a bucket that contains too many chemicals. Filled with all sorts of random ingredients – bland, boiled chicken. Ground beef. Dry carnitas. Dump some guacamole on them, and serve three for $17. What an embarrassment. Same with sushi. Saying ‘sushi’ is your favorite food is like saying ‘sandwiches’ are your favorite food. What does that mean? Cream cheese and rice dipped in low sodium soy sauce does it for you? Bleh. No thank you. Sake nigiri, however – well, that’s wonderful.
I am my truest self when I am fucking and cumming. The person I am the rest of the time isn’t real to me – she’s a prop, a tool that I use to get from fuck to fuck. If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, I would fuck. I would fuck someone I love. I would crawl inside and feel what it’s like to be a part of another person’s flesh. I feel safe when I’m fucking. Like nothing bad can happen to me because this is the worst thing that could ever happen to me, even though it is the only place where I want to be. I don’t want to be the person that I am the rest of the time – she’s a concession, an admission of defeat. She’s separated from the one true thing that makes me, me. She’s the shell that I wear when I need to walk around and do all the other things to keep my life in order so that I can spend the rest of my life fucking. Fucking away. Fucking off. Just – bring me back to the person I am when I’m fucking you, and I will love you forever. And ever. No matter what.
My brother’s standing in the hallway, holding a few framed vintage photos. The photos look like them from the early 20th century – in one, a stoic, stone faced family stares bleakly into the camera. In another, a baby in a christening outfit.
“Do you want this?” my brother asks.
“Who is it?” I respond.
“I don’t know. Maybe our grandfather? Or our grandfather’s father?”
“Nah, I’m good,” I say. For all the times I’ve wandered through thrift stores, ogling the vintage photographs and the portraits, the opportunity to own framed photos of my own family doesn’t intrigue me. Probably because it’s the white side of my family. I don’t know who any of those people are, or what they did, and, frankly, I don’t really care.
I’m at my brother’s house because he has a few final details to hammer out when it comes to my paternal grandmother’s will. So we are gathered there so he can dole out various knick knacks that may or may not have sentimental or financial value. The last thing that he has is a ring – a diamond ring. With a ruby in it. It was my grandmother’s wedding ring, and of course I want it, but I do the honorable thing and defer to my mother. My mother takes the ring, puts it on.
“If your father saw this, he would kill me,” she says. We all laugh. My mother waves her hand around, watching the diamonds glisten.
“But you deserve it. After everything you went through,” I say. It’s true – my grandmother, a waspy, wispy woman whose blood line was 100% Dutch, was never kind to my mother. Mostly because my mother is Mexican and Filipino. My mother nods her head in acknowledgement of my statement.
“That ring is worth thousands of dollars,” my brother tells her.
I look at my siblings, who are gathered there, masks on, socially distanced, and I can’t help but smile. For all the horrible things my grandmother did to her daughter in law, isn’t this the best revenge. We are all mixed race, and my siblings’ children are even more mixed and less white than we are. When my grandmother died, she was the last remaining white person in my family. And now, here we are. The white people may be gone from this family forever, but their money remains.