Open

IMG_4716i’m opening myself up
to love
all of its
hiccups
frustrations
wooing
and falling
falling
falling
slowly
into soft arms,
warm kisses,
a heart
saved
just
for
me

IMG_4703i’m opening myself up
to all wild
imaginations
fascinations
incantations
for ‘the one’
because i know
he exists
whether or not i find him
he exists

IMG_4720i’m opening myself up
to love
because it does not
have to be a curse.
my ancestry is not
the soil
our love needs
to grow in

Sorry.

I wish I had someone, a brother, a sister, dazzling in melanin, to carry the weight with me.

Upset, I sent a message to a friend to blow off steam:

Sometimes the T— can be so simple-minded, rude, and racist.

Surprise. The Land of Smiles isn’t always so kind. Unfortunately, the poison of the past still trickles down to HERE, NOW, this existence I am in.

 
We are connected. Never first hand felt the pains of slavery, but the sun, unrelenting, singes a fire underneath my skin– a flashback every time I come out of my house. The electric SNAP! Then the hottest sting on back when someone calls me farang* because the sound rolls off their tongue a little differently with me; I’ve heard them say it to my pale friends, and it always sounds like a new word entirely. Seasickness crawls itself out of my stomach when I try my hardest, my absolute hardest, to make my voice as small as my fist so that they do not run away when I ask for directions. When I hear my voice come out louder than wanted I quickly swallow it, like how I swallow my frustrations that others don’t want to hear. don’t believe. don’t understand. 

I’m in the bookstore just trying to buy a blasted book, minding my own blasted business, when he comes. Presence like the sun, tongue like that snap, and I feel the wooden floor boards start to roll under my feet, the smell of salt water threatening to pour out of me.

I’m sick. Of this.

And I wonder if they’re so quick to avert their eyes, their mouths, their frightened faces when I look back at them, acknowledge their presence and that mine isn’t any different. I wonder if at that moment they see the flicker of my ancestors ranging in my stare, and realize that bitter, rancid taste now wrestling in their mouth is something they should’ve swallowed years ago–guilt.

When too much time passes between ‘person’ and ‘sorry,’ SORRY has an unforgivable way of rotting.

When my friend responds “sorry” I know she means it with the utmost love and respect, but I can’t help but to spit it out. It’s been sitting out in the sun for too long.

I wish I had a brother or sister, dazzling in melanin, to help me carry this kind of weight, this heavy history, dressed in soft flesh.

Someone who knows the weight of sorry.

*foreigner

He Likes Me. Not.

Laughter is the best medicine, so let’s laugh at my crazy, hopelessly romantic, thinking-waaaay-too-much butt together.

So, as all dumb stories start out, I have this friend… this guy friend, who has quickly, as of today, turned into another blemish on my terribly embarrassing, non-existing love life.

It all started several months back when I agreed to give him my IM information because he claimed to be gay. Let me explain. He kind of creeped me out at first because he always asked where I lived, then when he finally found out said information he let me know, with, might I add, too much enthusiasm. I was not going to give my IM info to a kind of creepy, borderline stalker, straight man. But as soon as he said he was gay it was like a guest free pass to friendship!

I don’t understand my ways either.

Anyway, we would often text about a plethora of things: English questions, life questions, faith questions, etc. Until one day he asked me the strangest question of all, a question pertaining to women.

“But I’m confused… I thought you were gay.”
“What? No! I was only joking.”

Code red! False gay! This is NOT a drill.

3 Things came to mind.
1.) Who lies about being gay?
2.) What if he’s lying about not being gay.
3.) OMG. Maybe he actually is crazy!

Weeks go on and surprisingly we’re still friends, although now I’m way more suspicious of everything he says and does. Like, when he asked if I was home, I’d lie. When he asked where I was going for vacation, I’d lie. When he asked what I did for the day, I’d half lie.

Our whole friendship was building on an IM chat of lies. lies. lies.

3

Months pass of the lying, but during Christmas break the glittering lights and sparkling trees must have gotten to my head… I started to trust him. I stopped lying, well, I lied less. I realized that I did have a friend in this gay/maybe not gay guy. So, one day I invited him to the movies. Just as friends. We ended up not going. I left late and he was still stuck where he was. Perhaps all that was for the better.

On my walk back to my home I sent him an IM apologizing for the day.

Then I sent the emoji that made our whole friendship dynamic even stranger.
I sent a bald-headed, smile-faced character holding a heart.

He took it too seriously.

2

My whole body turned into red heat.

We were only supposed to be friends–my first healthy functioning, opposite sex friendship. *sigh*

Everything got worse. More weeks went by and in the empty spaces of my mind he would pop up. Often. Images of him and his smile occupied idleness. Kami, pull it together. He’s potentially creepy and he’s not even a believer. All of my arguments failed. I always had a rebuttal.

Can you blame me? He would send messages like this after meeting outside:

1

In the end, my stupid, hopelessly romantic heart won and I started falling for this lunatic. One night me and my clumsy fingers decided to send a message asking why Thai men don’t go for brown women. Yeah, I actually asked that… *eye roll*

I’ll spare the details, basically it was incredibly embarrassing and incredibly obvious what I meant by my inquisition.

He stopped texting me for weeks.

Whatever, I felt relieved that at least I pushed him so far away that I didn’t need to welcome anymore possibilities into my heart, that soft and silly thing.

When I finally stopped counting the days of no contact and forgotten the features of his face, a little jingle goes off on my phone–it’s him.

We pick up messaging again as if distance wasn’t just awkwardly sitting between us, fiddling its thumbs, for weeks.

The following day he starts asking me questions about how to flirt with American girls.

-Be nice to her
-Open the door for her
-Tell her she looks nice today
-Don’t be a stalker (I had to explain what that meant. See photo #1, he had no idea)
-Never force her
-Be her friend first
-Ask her on a proper date

He thanked me and I suppose went on about his day using his newfound wisdom.

A few days later I bump into him outside; it had been a while since we’ve seen each other in the flesh, especially with my new teaching and Thai learning schedule. It was totally frightening for me. He looked just a nice as I remembered. (Cut me some slack, I’m hopelessly romantic. Remember?) I talked as normally as I could, moments of eye contact, but not too much, carrying an air of nonchalance in my voice, interested, but not too interested. Those ten minutes felt like centuries, and when the lady preparing my order had to go find change I kicked myself for being hungry at that exact moment. She came back with the change, I practically rip it out of thin air, and booked it to my room after giving a decent enough goodbye.

Returning to my room, I wanted to text him, give him a good reason for my mad dash home, but I decided against it. I was not going to text him first. A few minutes of self-control and the loudest jingle blares out of my phone–it’s him.

We talk some about our day, I admit that I was shy and that’s why I ran home, he starts going off about working out and his muscles, of which I tell him I’m bored of hearing about. Normal conversation. Then, he goes into what seems like all of the advice I gave him for flirting with American women.

He sort of asks me out, albeit with his friends.
He makes it a point to call me “friend”, and since that day on has messaged me every day like a nice friend would.

**This is a side note, hence it’s position to the side, but during one of our conversations he asked about American women saying “I love you” and if it means anything. I connected that to the heart I sent him when we missed our movie hangout.

4

It all sounds like friendship, but then I get these messages and my stomach starts having washing machine syndrome.

56

Now my mind has no empty spaces to play in idleness because he is taking up all of the space. Again. Does he really like me? Why? I know I’m beautiful and smart and funny. Duh. But, really? Me?

I hesitate to tell my friends, fearing harsh judgement, or worse, maybe they would encourage me on in the madness.

Days are passing and all of our history keeps whizzing through my head, memories we had not even made yet. I know myself. I know I can make galaxies out of a string of thought, so I muster up the courage and ask him a strange question, probably the last strange question we will ever share.

78910

The house of us that I had constructed out of ambiguous IMs and nothing melted under the heat of my cheeks–total and complete embarrassment.

Well, at least I know now, and now I have a pretty funny story to tell about the time I liked a maybe gay, possibly stalker, Thai man.
Let’s all laugh together!

***

*PS:  Yes, I know, his English was not the best. Once again, I’m a hopeless romantic willing to push through barriers for “love”–even language. 

 

Culture Shock

My friend and I were chatting by the canal over coffee and sweets about the differences between our hometowns and this city.

We both shared our concern with not knowing our neighbors; how it feels like you’re alone, even though surrounded by thousands of people; how we’d be out of luck if something were ever to happen to us outside; how the city isn’t always so helpful or welcoming.

What I found interesting about this exchange of concerns is that my friend, the one sitting across from me with her cold chocolate beverage, was Thai.

Call it ignorance, but I had no idea she shared this same tension with living in the city. I had no idea she could experience culture shock within her own country.

I’ve heard students and other friends comment on how much they miss their hometown and how different it is, but I think that was the first time I’ve ever mauled it over thoroughly with another.

Although difficult, it was comforting to hear:

I’m not alone, and yeah, living in the city, any city, can be difficult at times, but somewhere in the masses there is a connection to be made, another foreign soul looking for a friend, looking for open doors in a kind smile.

Looking for a place
to call home.

img_5307

Men & Flowers

i want more ‘men’
with flowers falling from their
skin.
more water in their eyes.
more tremble in their bodies.
more women in their hearts
than
on their hands.
more softness in their height.
more honesty in their voice.
more wonder.
more humility in their feet.

-less
Nayyirah Waheed

img_5319

Masculinity: today was my student and I’s second time discussing this topic.

He is an effeminate, beautiful, bright boy, but, unfortunately, the only description of him that gets attention is before his beauty. He is constantly teased by his friends about his feminine ways.

They call him gay,
letting each letter borrow deep into his self-esteem like a snake making its home. (even if he was, why should this be an insult?)

My beautiful, bright, effeminate boy had a difficult life growing up, one I’m not comfortable in sharing, basically the way he swings his hips and breaks his wrist is a product of his past.

(I wonder if his classmates even know…)

“I feel like I put on a mask, Ms. Kami. I don’t feel like my true self,” he opened up to me.

I shattered.
Yet, it didn’t stop there.

He continued, “I’m weak and emotional. I saw something on the internet that said men should not show emotion.”

Gosh, I freaking despise the internet, how it has our young ones suckling at its toxic breast. Our Tiny Futures are eating that garbage up, and if we don’t say anything then we’re practically giving them a spoon–graduating the insanity.

Please tell me we’ve matured as humankind to see that heavily guarded gender roles have the potential to feel like prisons.

Am I saying gender roles are inherently evil? No, but let us be careful of how much influence they have in governing lives; allow room for exceptions.

By the way, the belief that men should be more stoic–less flesh, more bone–is outrageous and should NOT, by any means, be included as a trait under the role of male.

Anyway, we had a lovely talk about real friends; Jesus, a man, THE man, and how he wept; also, David, his harp, his sheep, and his weakness that still was able to defeat a giant.

He’s such a spectacular boy–a born leader without having to manipulate anyone or hide his heart. I just wish he saw what I see each day instead of what the media wants him to see.

For the love of beautiful, bright, effeminate boys wanting so badly to be men, please, allow room for them to grow into masculinity that’s stronger than a flimsy plastic mask.

We’re so quick to give our little boys rocks,
what if some of them just want to hold flowers?

Is that okay?

Can our boys be delicate, too?

Legacies by Nikki Giovanni

her grandmother called her from the playground
“yes, ma’am”
“i want chu to learn how to make rolls” said the old
woman proudly
but the little girl didn’t want
to learn how because she knew
even if she couldn’t say it that
that would mean when the old one died she would be less
dependent on her spirit so
she said
“i don’t want to know how to make no rolls”
with her lips poked out
and the old woman wiped her hands on
her apron saying “lord
these children”
and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and i guess nobody ever does

Happiness

20140712_09401820140712_094839img_4155img_7121img_7922

whenever i forget the touch of happiness,
its softness on my skin.
kissing me deeply, full on the lips.
whenever i forget its gentleness
how it feels smoothed around my smile

i remember
china
and suddenly
it all comes back.

Sonnet 30

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

I Need A Job!

This is total crap.
Four years. A mountain of debt. No job opportunities.

I blame the backpackers who come to Thailand on a whim and spontaneously decide that they are capable teachers.

STOP TAKING REAL JOBS!

Backpackers occupy English centers, public schools, international schools, taking up space they didn’t earn with tears and sweat.

I’ve devoted my whole college career to this (loans included).
I’ve skipped out on summer jobs and volunteered overseas instead.
I’ve missed out on fun nights with friends for tutoring sessions.

I’ve wept and prayed and stayed up all hours in the night for my students.

Backpackers? Paid all $50 for their TESOL certificate in some back alley on Sukumvit after knocking down a few neon green margaritas.

Backpackers? They really liked the cheap noodles and tie-dye shirts and decided that was a good enough reason to stay.

Backpackers? Get bored after a few years, buy a new plane ticket with all of their “hard-earned” cash and fly to some other exotic country, fall so madly in love with the people and the culture and the cheap noodles and steal another real job away from real teachers.

Livid. I am the exact definition of the word.

So many backpackers have smiled their way into real jobs while the rest of us, tired, and calloused pick up the remaining scraps.

Luckily for Thailand, not so much for me, some schools are getting more strict, not allowing the TESOL certificate to be enough. Unfortunately, that’s what I have. That’s what my whole college career was devoted to getting.

I’ve spent more time and energy in this field, yet have been thrown into the same category as
rope sandal
bongos and beer
two weeks dreadlocks
“I love Thailand” muscle-tee
I spent all $50 dollars and forget the change
backpackers.

This is crap
and I need a job.

A real one.

I’m Tired.

Tired has taken on a whole galaxy full of meaning.

These days tired is more than bones and muscles and sweat.

I’m
emotionally
mentally
spiritually
Tired.

And I’m realizing the world isn’t the softest bed to rest on.

So I rest here, in the soft curves of words when the comfort of others sounds like blaring noise, when my brain has used up all of its space thinking, when my hands are too full and heavy to pray.

I rest here
with them.