Tag Archives: Shitty First Drafts

#21 – Toxic Masculinity Chronicles Part II – Random Thoughts 

Yesterday as I was heading back to work from my lunch break, I was walking behind three white bankers or Masters of the Universe as I like to refer to them. I don’t mind lingering behind groups of people because I like to listen, it’s a hobby that serves my writing and directing. These are my anthropological experiments. They were talking about Puerto Rico so my ears perked up.

“What more do these people want? I’m sick of the negative press Trump is getting for doing his job.”  Said one of them.

I wanted to move away from them but as you expect, the three of them were manspread all over the sidewalk.  I kept telling myself to keep my mouth shut, hold my tongue because today was not the day to tell three men to fuck off.

“And that mayor, some people don’t know their place.” With that, they walked into their glass castle, their building is literally all glass on the outside, and I was left fuming.

I have no problem standing up to or speaking my mind to powerful white men. It’s one of the things I’ve learned to do well because of my job as an Executive Assistant.

After the mass shooting in Vegas, Tom Petty dying, the devastation in Puerto Rico, the so called president being himself, and some family issues that have me a little worried, I did not have the energy to engage with the three Masters of the Universe. I don’t know why it still baffles me when educated people are racist and misogynist. I don’t think the three men would have been expressing their views so freely in the middle of the street if Trump wasn’t in office. It still shocks me and hurts me when I see how much hatred is being put out there.

When I got back to my desk, every news article kept referring to the Vegas shooter as a lone wolf. I hate how the media, the police, the FBI and regular people refer to white terrorists as a lone wolf. This is how repugnant humans get normalized. Wolves don’t come in and attack hundreds of people unprovoked. Wolves are often the hunted either by hunters or farmers. Leave this beautiful animal out of the vernacular when describing white terrorists.

One of the news reports made me laugh; it was a this is so fucking sad, I don’t know what else to do kind of laugh. “Las Vegas gunman (I won’t print his name) enjoyed gambling, country music, lived quiet life before…” I laughed because it reminded me of some of the dating profiles I received when I was on Match.com. I got a lot of guys who had pictures of themselves with guns or rifles, some had the audacity to point their weapon at the camera. The way the media describes this white terrorist reminds me of some of those profiles.

Just when I think things can’t get any worse, I see the president’s visit to Puerto Rico and he’s throwing rolls of paper towels at people!

Stock prices of gun manufacturers go up after mass shootings.  The contraption used to turn semiautomatic weapons into machine guns is called a “bump stock”. The Vegas terrorist used bump stocks became a hot item at gun shops.

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#17 – Microaggression Chronicles

A few times a week, I like to go on a walk before I start my work day. Yesterday, I went on a hike. I told my boss I was going to be in by 9:00am. All the stars aligned and I got to work at 8:15am. I decided to go on a short walk. I went into the residential side of Westwood, where beautiful gardens and high rises on Wilshire Boulevard. surround multi-million dollar homes.

I said good morning to a woman walking her dog. She looked at me up and down. I looked at myself to see what she found so offensive.  I had showered and changed into my work clothes at the gym, so I was more than presentable in my Ann Taylor dress and Banana Republic flats. I looked at her and said “have a nice day” and kept on walking.

“Excuse me” she said, I turned back.

“What house do you work at?” I looked around me to make sure she was talking to me.

The woman, probably in her fifties, was walking a small, fluffy white poodle.   Her black velour track suit, over styled hair and heavy jewelry was suffocating.

“I don’t work in a house.” I said. She took her bedazzled phone out of her gold fanny pack.

“Then, what are you doing around here?” She asked, with slight Persian accent.

“I’m taking a walk before I go to work” I said deciding to engage her and not let her ruin my day.

“You just said you don’t work in a house” she said, raising one of her stenciled eyebrows.

Her bracelets jingled as she pulled the leash back. The little poodle was trying to get away, his little paws tapping the pavement as he tried to get his owner to move.

I point to my office building. “I work there, on the twenty second floor, do you work in one of these houses?” I asked.

She gulped a large chunk of air, almost choking, her eyes opened so wide they almost bulged out of their sockets.

“I don’t work, I live around here. I’m part of the neighborhood watch group.” She said, her coral lipstick spread over her front teeth.

“Oh, I thought you were the dog walker.” I said, smiling.  “I’m also part of my neighborhood watch group and it is problematic when my neighbors profile and make assumptions about people out for a walk.”

She interrupted me. “You thought I was a dog walker? Do I look like a dog walker?” I knew I would piss her off but this was telenovela worthy melodrama.

“Well, you are walking and you have a dog, my mistake. Have a nice day.” I said, patting myself on the back for making her clutch the chunky rhinestones of her fat necklace.

My smugness was short lived when I thought about what had transpired and how different that encounter could have been for someone else. I decided to have fun at this woman’s expense because I could; I was light skinned enough, well dressed enough, legal enough, educated enough and I belonged enough.

I don’t take things like my job, my family, my health, my home or my friends for granted but I sometimes forget how much privilege I have.

# 16 – Toxic Masculinity Chronicles

Ever since the election there has been a rampant spike in toxic masculinity, at least it feels that way to me. I’ve been meaning to chronicle these but I’m too upset or weirded out when they first happen. I want to forget that I live in a world where the patriarchy rules, that these aggressions/transgressions are not my norm but they have been happening way too often for me to “forget” about them.

Yesterday I was about an hour late to work. My regular hours are from 6am to 3pm so there is always plenty of parking spots to choose from.  At 7am on a Monday, the first level of the lot was getting full.  I pulled into a three car parking spot. I was the second car and chose the middle space. There were other places I could have parked but I chose the one closest to the garage entrance and so did the guy who pulled in behind me. He saw that I was trying to park, he could have waited for me to be done and then he could have pulled into the third spot but no. With the two of us parking, it was hard to see where my lines were. I was still OK but his car, a giant SUV did not fit in the third spot that was designated for three compact cars.

I drive a large Prius but it still fits into a compact spot.

Mr. Giant SUV pulls out of the space because I would not have been able to open my door with his gas guzzler parked next to mine. As I’m walking away, I can see that he is trying to pull back into the spot. I don’t know what time he goes home but there was no way I would have been able to get into my car from the driver’s seat. There were other spots he could have parked in.
I walked back, knocked on his window as he was putting some pomade on his shiny bald head. I startled him. I pointed to my car. He looked and rolled down his window.

“What would you like me to do about it little girl.” Said the wanna be Lex Luther in an Australian accent that I’m sure has made many women swoon but it made me roll my eyes and take a deep breath.

“I’d like you to back out so I can park somewhere else and you can keep your one oversized SUV in the spots designated for two compact cars.”

“Well sweetheart, had you done a better job parking you wouldn’t be in this predicament.” He said, getting out of the car and heading for the elevator.

“If you dare go into that elevator and I can’t get into my car, I will call security and have your car towed.” He kept walking and saw me reach for my phone. I have Joe, the doorman on speed dial.

“Joe, some asshole is blocking me and is about to get in the elevator, he’s wearing a checkered pink and white shirt, can you please, oh wait, it looks like he’s going to move after all.”

I stood by my car as he moved his car to another spot. I took my car and moved to another spot as well. I was walking toward the elevator, I was not expecting him to hold the door, if anyone had seen him pressing the close door button, they would have thought he was getting electrocuted.

This was no way to start the week.

I reached for my phone and looked at pictures of my daughter, it made me smile.  As the day went on, I kept trying to block the incident out of my mind but I couldn’t.

I don’t know why this guy chose to park in the spot next to mine as I was parking my car.  Was he making a political protest by squeezing his Escalade next to a Prius and a Tesla? Or was it an insecurity issue? Wanting his big car parked next to two smaller, more efficient ones?

# 14 – Infertility & Self Loathing

When Matt and I were in Sydney for our honeymoon in 2010, I told him that I wanted to go back to celebrate our five year wedding anniversary with our future 3 year old.

After a year of acupuncture and a paleo diet, I got pregnant in 2012.

I had a miscarriage.

I decided to deal with the loss by focusing on the positive. I was happy that I got pregnant when it looked like it would never happen. I was hopeful because my body knew how to make a baby.

After seven months of trying and no rainbow baby (a baby born after a miscarriage), we consulted with a fertility doctor.

2014 was the year that IVFs 1-3 did not take.

The 4th IVF in 2015 was somewhat successful because I got pregnant but at five weeks, I had another  miscarriage.

To deal with this one, I started planning where to go for our 2nd honeymoon/5 year wedding anniversary/vacation.  I broke down thinking of the three year old we did not have. I went in and out of my boss’ office every time the tears spilled, relieved by the lack of people at work that day.

I needed to do something to feel like I was helping the situation. I reached out to all my religious friends and had them ask their pastors/priests about adoption, in case they knew of anyone who wanted to give up a child.

I was desperate.

This was something so out of my control that not even two top fertility doctors (one in New York and one in Los Angeles) could  help me because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong either.

I needed an answer, a reason, even if it wasn’t a good one,  something to help me move on.

I threw myself into my job and writing. I took two workshops at once, my free time was to be consumed with reading and writing.

I did not want to cry or dwell on the recent miscarriage.

What would the boy or boys have looked like?

Why did this keep happening to me?

What was wrong with me?

I decided that I would try one more round and that would be the last time I would put my body and heart  through the rigors of IVF. I made it my goal to work on being happy no matter what the outcome of the fifth and final IVF.

I would not be bitter if it didn’t work.

I would be grateful for having the resources to try.

In the end, I wanted no room for regrets.

I was already on my journey to gratitude and contentment when Matt got a new job that interfered with my plans for a second honeymoon on our fifth wedding anniversary.

I didn’t mope or complain. I was not going to have a depressing, miserable summer. I was getting better at coming up with plan E when A-D didn’t work.

I went on vacation with my girlfriends.

I had nothing to lose by trying to be happy.

In retrospect, it sounds like a piece of cake to switch gears and decide to be happy. It was not an easy task. This being a shitty first draft, I see where I need to fill in the details of the pain I was in to properly illustrate it.

Below is an excerpt from my journal.

Anger Stage of Grief: This is what self loathing looks like a week after  miscarriage number two from IVF number four.

April 2015 – I am angry; at myself for wanting this so fucking badly, at my body for not fucking doing this for me, at the pregnant bitch showing me her fucking ultrasound picture. I don’t give a fuck, keep your enthusiasm to yourself you stupid hoe bag. To the other one, nosey fuck, it’s none of your fucking business when my IVF is, I fucking hate you. Most of all, I really do hate myself right now. My fucking sister is telling me how brave I fucking am, how awesome my fucking body is for trying and trying.  No, I’m not brave, I’m a fucking idiot who doesn’t fucking know when to quit. My body is not fucking amazing, all I’ve gotten is two fucking miscarriages. I am obese with a bmi of 30 from  the anxiety, eating my feelings and the fertility drugs. I don’t feel amazing or maybe I do.  You know what I think of the word amazing? It’s overused and most people don’t know what it means. They glorify things that are not amazing, like parents who call their toddlers amazing for hitting milestones they should have hit months ago. In that case, yes, I am absolutely amazing, an amazing fucking loser.

After I wrote this entry, I screamed into a pillow and cried for about three hours. I did not let Matt or anyone see me like this. My heart, body and soul could not take it anymore. The physical and mental pain was exhausting and would probably kill me if I didn’t do something.

My daughter is now ten months old, the fifth IVF worked. I don’t know if it was the change in mindset or the odds finally being on my side. I am beyond blessed to have her. I do not take her or motherhood for granted.

I would like to think that if things hadn’t gone the way they did, I would have found a way to be content. Happiness is a tall order. Even when you get everything you want, there are too many horrors in the world for me to be truly happy.

 

 

# 13 – Virtual Children

I turned in my outline and plot breakdown for my pilot. I am taking an online television writing class. One of the story lines was inspired by a flash I wrote in 2015. I’m trying to keep up with the challenge of writing an essay a week during my lunch time but between the writing for the class and a recent death in the family, I have not done much memoir writing.  Since I consider this a blog of shitty first drafts, I’m going to share some older writing until I can catch up.

Virtual Children

I just found out that my husband has two adopted children, virtual children in the world of Skyrim.  “How long have you had them?” I ask, perturbed. “A few years, they have a pet fox and I give them gold coins whenever they ask for an allowance.” He says like this is the most normal thing in the world.

“So these fake kids, is this how you cope?” I ask trying to decide if I’m being funny, sarcastic or mad.

“Yeah, you know that. When I’m bored or stressed I play video games, why are you acting so weird?”

“I mean, is this how you cope because we don’t have a kid, like if if this cycle doesn’t work and I don’t get pregnant, are you going to buy your virtual children an exotic animal and give them a gold coin? Or are you going to spend the rest of your life in the computer hanging out with them?” I say and now I’m owning my anger.  I knew there was a reason I did not like him playing that game, I knew there was something that did not feel right but I wasn’t about to tell him to stop playing.  Three Christmases ago I bought him Rocksmith, a music video game that teaches you to play guitar and bass.

I was happy when Rocksmith became the favorite and Skyrim was temporarily forgotten.  He was spending a lot of time learning to play the bass but that didn’t bother me, it made me happy that he had a healthy way of dealing with the stress of his long commute.  Rocksmith is still his favorite way to relax along with learning Spanish on Duolingo but since the miscarriage four months ago,  I’ve noticed that Skyrim has made a comeback.

Matt thinks I’m blowing things out of proportion because making stuff up, especially things that you want in real life or things that don’t exist is part of the fun of video and role playing games.

I feel a little crazy for letting this get under my skin so much. I know that what bothers me about Skyrim is that it gives Matt an escape to something I haven’t been able to give him.

# 12 – A Letter About Depression

I am sharing this letter I sent to my close group of friends in June of 2014 because there’s a lot of people on my social media feed that are grappling with some form of grief, loss and/or depression. In hindsight, I wish I had sought the help of a therapist. I left out the two failed IVF attempts, I was not ready to share my battle with infertility. If you are going through depression, get help and know that you are not alone.

 

Dear Friends,

Sorry I’ve been in hiding, crying, depressed, hoping to keep it together so I don’t cry at work. I just returned from a writing workshop at UC Berkeley and I have not cried since I left on June 22, I feel so good. I think I needed to get away from everything and focus on writing – I was exhausted every day, I thought I’d be able to take a few trips to SF and explore northern CA, I got so invested in what I was doing that I left the campus once to go to the faculty reading. I attached what I workshopped  and at the end of the email is the teacher’s feedback (he is a well regarded author and his memoir is a must read).

The reason for my depression;

Shortly after my mother died my godmother also passed away – she was one of my mother’s closest friends as a teenager and also my father’s sister – my parents met because of her. I didn’t realize how much her death affected me, I was planning on interviewing her, spend time with her asking her questions about my mother and their friendship.

One of my best friends (not copied here, please don’t send this to her) is also battling cancer it has spread to so many places, I’m praying for a miracle for her.

One of Matt’s best friends suffered a stroke, she is recuperating but it devastated Matt, he helped the family as much as he could and I’m grateful that her recovery is speeding up.

Matt’s mom is not doing well and probably does not have much left either, she is almost 90 years old, and is deteriorating rapidly due to a fall in early May. Seeing how compassionate Matt has been to his friend Janet and his mother reinforces my first impressions of him; he is a kind, compassionate and empathetic person and I am lucky to be married to him. He has been spending a lot of time with his mother, assisting in her care taking, even changing her diapers and helping give her a bath when one of her attendants didn’t show up. I am humbled just to know him and it reminds me of Sonja’s strength when she took it upon herself to become my mother’s caretaker during the last month of her life. The eldest child is supposed to be the strongest and here are the babies of my two families proving me wrong.

OK, I’m crying now for the first time in two weeks. My acupuncturist told me that my crying is natural given all the recent losses, writing them down on this email has made me realize that yes, it’s a lot and I’m glad I let the tears flow instead of holding it back.

I’m still being a turtle, taking my time coming out of the shell but wanted to share with you what a magical time I had in my workshop. I’m saving money because the next one I want to go to is almost $3,000, in Hawaii, taught by Cheryl Strayed – her memoir Wild took me forever to read. I thought it was about a woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (it was) but the crazy hike was inspired by her quest to find herself after the death of her mother! See the themes here?

You don’t have to read the story, it’s 14 pages so no hurt feelings.  Sometime next week I will work on the revision. (Lynn, you already read it but wanted to include you in the email so you can see the feedback and know I’m thinking of you).

I hope you are all doing well and know that I treasure your friendship.

Thank You all for being in my life.

# 11 – a Micro Essay About a Place

I left NY on a freezing Saturday evening in January of 2003.  A few hours later, I landed at the Long Beach Airport in Southern California where the temperature was 79 degrees.

I deplaned onto the tarmac, the smell of burnt wood infused the air. I inhaled deeply savoring its bitter sweetness. The warm breeze enveloped me like a mother greeting her long lost child.

“That’s the Santa Ana Winds” my sister said.

We rode with the top down in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The smoke stacks of Carson behind us resembled dancing ghosts wearing shiny amber necklaces.

“The highways are called freeways here and they are always crowded” she warned.

The never ending break lights ahead of us looked like a glitter explosion on a home made Valentine’s card.

The headlights on the opposite side twinkled brightly, similar to a curtain made of Christmas icicle lights.

A giant American flag loomed in front of a cloud of blue smoke outside one of the refineries.

I turned on the radio, The Doors and the RHCP welcomed me with California anthems.

“I love this place” I said to my sister.

Billboards, car dealerships and fast food restaurants lined the freeway. The Goodyear blimp, illuminated by a spotlight, flew above us. Everything was flat, no skyscrapers in sight. This was my first encounter with the parking lot otherwise known as the 405.

Ten years later I buy a house in Long Beach and commute daily to Westwood, traveling the same roads I did when I first landed here.  Every day I am reminded, without regret and full of gratitude, that I traded crowded subways at rush hour for the privacy of my car on congested freeways.