I just sighed listening to a song I used to cry to when I was 14. I blame Throwback Thursday.
I was surprised last week by the number of likes and comments my first #TBT pic on Facebook garnered. A shot of my 12-year-old face hamming it up at my birthday party had been rotting in a box for several lifetimes and I had never even liked the photo. Public celebration gave me new eyes. Spending some time considering it, I saw in that cheesy grin the same person who became me, still flashing that specific stupid smile.
I just found my 2nd installment. Excitedly flipping through an album I discover this tie-dyed moment from 9th grade soccer practice, a toss away photo accidentally celebrating my favorite shirt and food of 1998. My narcissism approves the shot for Facebook use.
But something hits me. Gazing at my formative years, the ghost of a lullaby drifts toward me. The music does not match the picture. “What is that? Who sings that!? Is it Fiona Apple? Must be.” I search the lyrics. No, it’s Sheryl Crow singing “I Shall Believe.” It’s a sad song, soothing to this girl from way back and I remember now why it would follow me.
Behind this picture is heartbreak. I don’t remember if I was sad during that evening on the green, but I was so wrought with sorrow, grief and loss my year of 14. What strikes me now, twice as old as that girl there is recognition of the torment I was feeling unnamed in my own body. That girl there is having her insides ripped ragged and I was doing my best to hold everything in. Where we say that teenagers are sad, I was deeply troubled.
I am embarrassed by how foreign compassion for myself feels. She was a good kid. I think it’s time for me to let some of that stuff go.
SUPER LONG POST ABOUT GETTING LIGHTLY GAY BASHED & FILIPINO BASHED ON A PLANE MONDAY NIGHT. HAVE FUN! I’m on an airplane. I feel moderately queasy and am glad for my aisle seat. I glance back to measure the distance to the lavatory. A woman appears over me and pierces the air with her vuvuzela voice.
Her: Can I sit here to be near my kids?
She gestures across the aisle, past a large man partially obscuring a teenage girl and a slightly younger boy, 2 quiet, capable-looking humans. She gives no additional information. I look up at her again.
Me: I would prefer to stay in the aisle.
I try to say it with need in my voice. She shrugs, smiles blandly and climbs over me to the middle seat. She makes short conversation soon after: “Do you speak Spanish? No? What are you? Filipino? Oh.”
2 hours pass. 2 beers are served. I passively take note of her constant carousel of behavior past the left tip of my book: of yelling toward her daughter “QUE HORA ES!?” (though people closer have watches), of talking loudly at the meek, window-trapped college girl and of glancing hungrily over at her children absorbed in glowing tablets.
She hollers for the time again, leaning a little too close to my ear.
At this point, I am embarrassed for her daughter. So bloody embarrassed. Embarrassed at her obvious need for her children to need her. Embarrassed that she can’t tell that Window Girl just wants to read. I’m embarrassed that the one time her son turns to find her during turbulence, she doesn’t bother to glance over, lost in her own bellowing head.
Her final holler jars me. I glance over at her daughter with an “I’m so sorry your Mom is doing this” look, but her face is blank. That’s good, I guess. I glance toward Vuvuzela, inches from my now blank expression. Her eyes are glazed and narrow, locked on mine. Her voice is now more of a slow french horn.
Her: You are rude, you know that?
Her: You are looking at us. You don’t need to look.
Me: You were talking loudly in my ear.
Her: You are rude. You said no to me to sit next to my children. You must not have children. You do not understand motherhood.
Umm, lady, you have no idea the things I know about motherhood. I look over at her kids again who are still very capable of safely pre-heating an oven. The Aisle Guy stares straight ahead, uninvolved. I pull out my earbuds.
Me: I said I preferred to sit in the aisle.
Her: Heh, yeah. I see your face. You look like my sister.
Her voice drops further, grimacing.
Her: She is gay. You look gay.
Me: I am gay. (What the heck. Why not just go for it, you know?)
Her: I knew it! That is why you are rude. You are gay. No offense, but I can tell.
Me: Great! (Unsarcastically, I swear, bc to take offense at being gay is, well, dumb.)
She relaxes her visage. I take that moment to check in with myself. More queasy. Tingling all over. Breathe deep. Stay sane.
Her: Yeah! I love my sister. I mean no offense. That is where we are going. I am going to stay with my sister and her girlfriend in Pasadena. I love her very much.
Her: But you are rude and I can see it in your face that you are gay and that is why you are like this.
Me: Again, the sound was jarring.
She mocks my last sentence, bobbling her head around. I am impressed by her limited emotional & intellectual capacity.
Her: You know, Filipinos and Mexicans are the same. BUT… Filipinos are much louder than Mexicans. MUCH louder.
Me: Actually, it did sound like family. (Not lying. It crossed my mind how familiar the vuvu was.)
Her: I don’t think so!
She crosses her arms. My stomach gurgles. I push the call button and wonder if my face triggers some unconscious rage toward her sister. I wonder if her sister silently judges her. A gentlemanly flight attendant checks in.
Me: Hi. I’m having an experience. This woman was yelling to her child over there. I looked at them and now she is telling me that I am rude and that my face is gay.
Her: Because she is looking at my kid and me! She doesn’t need to look. I can see she is gay and that is why.
Me: I looked… one time.
Her: I asked her to switch so I can be near my kids. She says no because she is rude.
The attendant is following our story, taking it all in like a champ.
Attendant: (to me) Okaaay. Do you want to move? I can move you.
Me: I’m fine. I’m not angry. (pause, then slowly) Just, could you please not serve her any more alcohol?
He glances at her litter strewn tray and gossip mag she never opened.
Attendant: (to her) Would YOU like to move? We have other seats all over.
Her: No! If she isn’t going to move then me neither!
I giggle inside. I don’t want to move because I am tired and sick and we only have 30 minutes left and I don’t care enough. She seems to think it’s some showdown.
Aisle Guy Next to Kids: I’ll move! I can switch.
Her: Oh THANK YOU! You are SO. NICE.
She reaches her hands out to him in reverence. The flight attendant offers him a nice seat near the front. He is excited by this. I am genuinely happy for him.
She bouquets together her cup of coke, her cup of beer & her can of whatever and I initiate contact.
Me: You know, you could have asked that man to switch. Or asked a steward. (Or had your teen sit with the girls while you sat with the boy. Duh.)
Her: I asked YOU. And you said NO.
Me: You still would have been far away. I have a reason why I need to be in the aisle right now.
Her shoulders drop. “Oh.” Her face drops.
I stand next to the flight attendant while she stumbles across the aisle.
Me: I’m sorry about that. It was so weird.
Attendant: I have never seen that before.
Me: Yeah. Wow.
And with that she is holding court with her kids, laughter filling the cabin. I smile sadly to myself.
I worry about those kids. I worry about the day they see this memory with new eyes, no longer as that time the rude, gay Filipino lady kept their family apart, but as having a mother wrapped warmly in projection, assumption and privilege spewing poison.
My heart hopes there is not too much sadness under all that laughter. Someday they might realize she is the reason why they are so quiet, making constant sound to fill her lonely places. They might one day free themselves to find a voice wholly their own.
We pour out of the airplane and I watch them bounce through the terminal and I feel like a jerk. I’m probably wrong about all of it. I mean, they seem pretty close.
And then I see her leave them and walk straight into the men’s room. She yelps, walks back out and immediately blames them for her mistake.
One corner of my mouth twitches as I walk past.
Alaska Airlines Flight: 524
Itinerary: Seattle to Burbank
Author: Sandra Daugherty
Aisle Seat: 24C
Date of Incident: March 31, 2014
***Originally posted to my Facebook profile April 1, 2014.
I finally admitted to myself that I don’t like to blog. Or, I don’t like what I imagine blogging to be. Over the last year I have imagine blogging to be “This Thing I Have to Do in a Certain Way” and that way is one that I do not quite enjoy. But I also don’t like the self-jerking of journaling, either. But I have to let that go.
I want to express myself, my thoughts and my opinions. It can get sloppy. Half-formed even. Still, I constantly stifle my self-expression and perhaps it’s time to put that to rest.
So this is the beginning of me looking at act of blogging in a new light. For me to take the reigns and do with it what I like. Even if it’s a whole lot of endless journaling. Meh.
It’s time to be myself a bit more. Let’s see how I do. (After I click publish I shall hop over to my main blog for some aggressive self-acceptance. wish me luck!)
It struck me the other day that I’ve never heard anyone ask this question:
“As the human race, do we care if we survive?”
Beyond the recession, beyond the melting polar ice caps and beyond the sun itself I would like to know where we stand. This isn’t meant to be a romantic question. Nor one of legacy. It’s a straight forward question. Do we give a shit? Do you think you know? Walk with me.
It’s Like Dating
When you date someone, you may go into the relationship thinking,
“I want to find a mate to marry and have kids with.”
This is your internal compass. Or you might think,
“I don’t know what I want. All I know is this seems good right now and I’m going with it.”
Neither is better. The latter leaves more to the wind, pushing that person in the direction of its choosing. The difference is that the first version of yourself wants something and you keep that in mind when making romantic choices.
Applied to humanity, do we want to survive? Some assume we do as some assume everyone wants to get married and have kids. That assumption is not mirrored in reality. I’m not so sure people care that much beyond the end of their own life. And that is neither good nor bad. The question merely begs to be asked.
If we DO want to be around thousands of years from now hanging out with friends, making jokes and eating fabulous snacks, we might want to start keeping that in mind when living our lives. ESPECIALLY when making group decisions about how we invest in our future and upkeep our home rock.
We’re, in essence, dating our planet. I don’t know if we care where that relationship goes.
If Humanity Were a Business
If humanity were a business, our bottom line would be survival. I’m not a big fan of putting profits before people, but I’ll tell ya what. The bottom line in a capitalist enterprise is a HUGE motivator for people. Are we making money or aren’t we? No matter how adorable your crafty little gems might be, if they’re not selling on Etsy, your lil’ corporation is kaput.
In the business of survival, our way of life might be fabulous, but if it means falling into the red, we’re belly up. In the economy of life, it doesn’t seem like we’re making very wise business decisions.
A Time Sandwich
Think of the last 2,000 years. It’s been a while. We’ve had humans advance us forward and we’ve had humans push us back. The last 2,000 years has been one heck of a bunny hop.
Now think 2,000 years into the future. In the year 4k, I might get distracted from my point and wonder what language we’ll be speaking or what color we are. I might hope there is chocolate still and that we treat each other well, but I snap back to reality. ARE WE STILL EVEN ALIVE?
This very moment is like the middle of a fascinating time sandwich and I’m nibbling it, pensively.
Our Bottom Line
I admit I’m biased. I don’t want humanity to find itself done for. Ever! I want us to continue on as long as the universe can hang in there with us. Nothing is promised. Nothing is preordained. Our behaviors now effect the foreverness of our species and right now we are blowing in the wind. I’d rather set sail.
It just occurred to me that digital piracy might end up being fabulous for the music, tv and movie industry.
A while back, I attended a Nerdist presented podcasting at NerdMelt. The discussion topic was creating and running a TV show under the watchful eye of a giganto tv & movie studio.
A man of much entertainment industry knowledge said that if you want to create the show that you want, you hope for a very small budget. It should be enough money to operate, but not enough that anyone at the company cares much. That way you’re free to create your show without some micromanagey exec on your back making creative decisions in fear that you might fuck it up.
If the music industry and the movie industry don’t make as much money as it once did, then perhaps the big money-hungry studios will evolve and move toward something more lucrative. Thus leaving music and stories to a humbler group of humans.
And perhaps that will lead to a great boom to our cultural growth. When the creatives are left alone to create.
Just a thought.
I thought I’d share a simple Whovian thought that came to me tonight walking home in the crisp night.
Head down, brows furrowed in thought, I momentarily glanced upward. Immediately I was torn from my thought process, startled by the epic moon and those twinkling suns. After halting my downhill traipse and gazing upward, this was whispered inside my head:
“The thing that I love about Doctor Who is that he reminds me how very small I am in of span of space & time, and yet simultaneously how very important I am, too.”
And this gave me much peace. Watching Doctor Who is like looking into the night sky.