Sunday, July 14, 2013

On "Speak About It"

My life has changed since I've done this show, "Speak About It".

There was a train (wrecak) of events that led me to this. Sometimes, I almost attribute my involvement with this show to my break-up a couple years ago, as I partied way too hard one night and this guy, a "friend" took it too far, or at least tried to. And luckily, gratefully, nothing happened. But that specific situation sprung a leak in something that I thought was sealed and done with. But obviously it wasn't. That visceral feeling of having no sense of control was all too familiar. It reminded me of when I was a child and I actually was saexually assaulted. 

When it happened, I told a grown-up. This person told me to, not to tell anyone. That it will be taken cared of and I should never speak of it again. Then, it happened again. This time, I told someone else. Same ordeal, don't talk about it. And although that person was no longer a threat. Another person came into my life and repeated the same thing. Now, at that point, I blamed myself entirely. Had I not put myself in that situation, what could I have done to stop that, what was I wearing. Even at 7 years old, I tried to negotiate this. Because what I learned, actually from reading the script from the show, it doesn't matter a damn thing what I was doing or what I'm wearing or what planet I'm on, what happened to me - and unfortunately too many women and men - is never the fault of the person assaulted

Now, then, who's to blame? And is that question productive enough? What is there to do now to reclaim some control back into the survivor's lives and more importantly, how do we prevent this from happening? 

Speak about it. The difference when I was a child and now, is that I have a voice and that I know that I do. I can say something. And the beauty to all of this, is that I did. Numerous times over, on a stage. In many cities. In front of many, many people. #beatthat #ftw #speakaboutitrules 

Now, you don't have to talk about it on a stage or even post online blog entries (as I am doing now. Smh). But there is a lot you can do now. Like when/if a friend's tells their story to you. Listen. But that's rare, right, or at least you would hope. What is most frequent is being on the look out for friends, family, strangers, whomever may be in a potentially unsafe situation, where something might go down that consent can't or won't be made. That's where we can step in and do our part - whether your 18 years old at a party or 32 at a bar - we just need to be there for each other and for ourselves. 
Be receptive, be aware, be empathic. 

And, of course, if you are a person that has been assaulted, what you can do. First things first, don't even try blaming yourself honey. Whether you said no or you implied it non-verbally, the moment you did not want that to happen, it shouldn't of happen. So much easier said than done but dig deep. Because it will never be your fault. Second, talk about it. With someone. Anyone. There is something so empowering and beautiful when that kind of 'stuff' gets air. It's surprisingly liberating. It'll never take the experience away, and I know it hurts to even mention it at times, but freedom lies in words and truth. 

When asked why I do this show, I'm always fumbling around saying how 'important the message is to me' and how 'it on a personal level' - never really giving justice to what I really can/want to say. But hopefully, this can make a little dent to the reasons why I do th is show and how much this show means to me. Speak About It gave me a platfrom to become free from my own personal, unfortunate experiences and turned it into a beautiful, inspiring message that I hope I can continue to share with others. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

On Senselessness.

This is not news. We know what's been happening these past few days in Boston. The Marathon, bombings, casualties. I never even knew the word "maimed" existed until now: Boston Marathon Bombings.

Now, don't worry I will not attempt to rant on my opinion on terrorist attacks nor will this be a space I can successfully console the anxieties that my local Bostonians may feel. I'm just as uncertain, confused, in the dark as the rest of us. I think what makes it all seem surreal is that, these images in photos are familiar. I heard the sirens all day Monday near the hospital. I knew a a couple of people running the marathon, one volunteering at the finish line, another close by watching the race. It's a 20-25 minute walk from work? I was supposed to go to the Boylston area that afternoon; I walked by Copley the day before. I would get candy at the store almost every day, when studying for the MCAT last summer. That side walk will look so different now. These blood-stained, cement blocks. 

Now I'm not comparing what happened Marathon Monday to what happened to NYC. Not comparable. But there's a common theme to all these senseless acts of terror. Stupidity. Ignorance. Pure, disgusting, hate. No rhyme nor reason. Sigh, why would anyone want to endanger completely harmless people? An 8 year-old who just had his first communion, a 23 year-old grad student from China at BU and another woman, just 29 years old that a friend of mine knew from work. Let alone other people who were injured there that will look at their bodies and be reminded daily of such a horrid afternoon. Ugh I know this these injuries aren't an anomaly. People lose limbs, people die. People do hurtful things to other people. But why? Why. The way that these men did it, in such a public arena. At the finish line. At a time where most people on average finish the marathon. Where media can capture their "glory" moment? What kind of ego-filled, sadistic people would find a sense of gratification in all of this? These are people hurting people. Absolute nonsense. 

The other day I remember saying to a friend, how I love people. How we (as mankind) are so great, so capable of great things, to love, to create, to exist. .... Then, this. How is it that the very same people, capable of such love and compassion can also be of the same species that will kill and harm their own kind as bad as we do? I realize I may not be as eloquent as I want to be at the moment but what is this. Where are we - that in this world we can be capable of such terrible things. Shooting in theaters, schools, malls. Bombings at city races. Crashing of planes in buildings. The fuck, what kind of world do we live in?! Let's not forget the recent suicides of young women that were sexually abused, beatings at orphanages. When tragic stories like these come up, the question or thought that comes to mind is then  how is it that people like - that bring upon harm to others - have this sort of social amnesia. Do they forget that the lives that they harm are people, just like them, that are loved by parents, brothers, friends. How do they forget that the breath they take is the same breath as another. What enables them or justifies their actions to hurt others in such a permanent and painful way. 

As one of the bombers attempt to protect how own life by running and hiding away, did he forget that just a few days ago he put into jeopardy so many lives at risk and threw 3 others lives so easily?? He's working so hard to stay alive... To protect the very one thing he threw away with such ease. Is he admitting that a life is worth to keep? Hmph, the irony.

I pray for mercy, consolation, compassion. It's hard to want those things at a time like this because I want revenge, I want justice. But to want those things, to desire redemption but without empathy, is pointless and redundant. So until then, I can only hope for some closure soon and along with it, some peace with it too.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On the "G" Spot.

Not sure what the "G" stood for. First hypothesis, "good" ha. Then I googled it.

It's German, "Grafenberg". Anyways, its not the 'area' of what I want to talk about, per se. It's more of the human psyche than anatomical location that I'm interested in. A spot, where you're gooood. Whether professionally, personally, psychologically, physically and any other 'p' way to describe yourself, a place where you are simply content. When others ask how you are, you are able, within those 2 seconds to reflect on your life, to say that you're good and actually mean it.

Now, where is this G-Spot? Does it exist? What does it look like to you.. For some, that 'good' spot is when you're in that exclusive relationship. For others, it's when they finally get accepted to a coveted program or obtain their dream job. Whatever it is, it's that moment when your dreams, aspirations, goals, expectations intersect with the indisputable reality. 
Ugh I'm so not there. And the worst/hardest part of it all, is that I judge myself that I'm not. I'm 20-something and pissed for not making the "right" priorities, "right" sacrifices, "right" choices. Because had I, I wouldn't be where I am right now, right? 

God who knows. For those who aren't God-friendly may not get this, but sometimes I wonder if it was always me in the end of the day, to blame, that I'm not in this good spot in my life. Where God's like, here's an opportunity to be really happy, and then I'm the one fucking it up every single time. Thank God He's much more forgiving than I am. My mom and I often argue about whether or not I made the "right" decisions in my life; the worst is that I feel I can't justify any of my choices until I give her the golden goose. And maybe, that's the point. I shouldn't justify any of my choices. Because, they aren't worth defending.

And the worst part is, by saying that, I feel like if I'm discrediting and denying each memory, each relationship - platonic or otherwise - that arose from these fortunate detours. Moments where I got to share a stage with people and dance hip hop, where I would walk and passed by the Empire State building like it's NBD, sit hours in a mini-van for the sole purpose to preach about sex and consent. Someone said to me, your life seems so exciting. And my first reaction was surprisingly annoyed, almost angry. Key word ya'll: seems. Who cares that I have these 'cool' stories in my repertoire. Yeah, yeah I get to talk about co-directing a show or going to a ball. But really, who cares. Those memories are brief; they don't change the lives of others. I have friends with splendid, over the top lifestyles and showered with coveted degrees and accolades. I have many, many friends currently already doctors, let alone the large handful I have now that got accepted. I have multiple friends overseas doing grand gestures in third-world countries. I have a supermodel friend turned national media figure. Another with a million hits on YouTube, then a few more with a show in Vegas. I have friends engaged, married, and on their second child, not all at the same time, of course. Blah this need for perspective needs to come quick.

What to get from this isn't that "G" stands for envy. No. I am painfully excited for my friends and for their lives. I know my successes are not contingent to theirs. And I know part of this discomfort I can blame is our social infrastructure like Facebook, where we get this constant display of Hey! Look what I'm doing now! kind of business that reminds the "rest of us" where we may not be.. at the moment. Of course, we're happy that our friends are getting XYZ but it's sometimes, hard to find that space in our worlds where we can feel good about the choices we made, let alone the people we are now (becoming). That happy, little G-spot.

I need to give myself a little credit. I forget sometimes that I didn't come from the most traditional family unit. Sometimes, even then, I wonder if that even has an effect.. Had an interesting, couple of childhood experiences (again, still wonder if there's any influence). And some other adventures along the way, and - in a good way - still ended up like this. I know right now, my mind has a very limited perception of what my "G-spot" is. I have a vision of where it is, how I would feel when I get there. But for now, it all just seems like a myth. I am in a place in my life where I feel I am miles upon miles upon miles where I want to "be". My thoughts, my body, my career, my relationships. And all I can think of, is how utterly ungrateful I must sound. Please don't mind me if I'm not making any sense.. Just drive on by. Nothing to see here.. And the worst feeling is, I can't even fake it. I want to 'show face' that I'm cool and comfortable in my own skin. But I'm not. Not at this moment. And I know this self-imposed vulnerability is probably not the sexiest thing ever. But so is playing this coy and (un)comfortable facade. Stating this sentiment on a public forum, again, maybe not one of those "good" choices I made. Nevertheless, I feel strangely lighter and only slightly embarrassed. I know none of you could ever feel like this since ya'll are super human beings but in case you do, know I'm right there with you. Happy Finding your G-Spot every one.. Wait.. what?! Just kidding. But really. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On a Year Ago.

I didn't like how I originally wrote this entry. I half-fasted it. And I knew that.

Been lagging on this entry. I passed the actual "year ago" mark and in some way to me, I feel as if the entry had lost its efficacy. But nonetheless, I find it necessary for it to be document this 'narrative' in my life. Man, what a difference a year makes... 

Last Thanksgiving I stayed at my Aunt's and slept for what I think was the longest I've ever had. 13 hrs. Yuppp. It was mid-semester, my first year in grad school. And for all those who suffered that program with me, knows exactly how it was. Swamped with endless quizzes, exams, and syllabi. I remember coming home to Rangai and feel like I could finally let down my guard. I was finally 'safe'. Life was kicking my ass. Life 1, Ellen -82.

I had just flown out to Detroit to create my own romantic film and was exhausted.. I was so dumb. So, so dumb. I was trying to resurrect, what now I see with full clarity, a relationship facing its ultimate doom. I was so gloomingly optimistic. I remember my cousin trying to cock block me from going, being the big sister that she is, prophetically knowing that if I were to go that it would be one rather painful experience. And man, was she right. Definitely in the books for worst trip ever. 

I can remember sending a picture to my girlfriends back home where I was staying for the evening. Alone. That was my Halloween 2011. Man do I know how to party. What kills me is that months later he tells me he met up with me because he "felt guilty" - You idiot. What you need to say is, "out of respect" you met up with me. I was the one that flew out there, so that you can do the dirty work of ending it. And still! You didn't. 
"... I feel really guilty for that time when you flew out here to try to keep us going because I know I was really cold and heartless that weekend -- not wanting to see you. It was the guilt that finally got me to have lunch with you. I'm sorry for wasting your time there because really I had been dating and sleeping with someone since the beginning of October. I was scared of being alone and I wanted to make sure I had someone to hold on to. I'm sorry I put you through that...  
 I never apologized for ultimately using you that entire time. I want to apologize for lying to you about all of that. I don't have any agenda except to do what is right which, again, should have done a long time ago."
This (still) brings me to tears. I don't know what's disappointing, his words or the fact that I'm still affected by them. May the records show, I am over him but not so much the break-up, or so it seems.The break-up meant, what I thought, reflected my self-worth. It's unfortunate that this sentiment still finds its way in my thoughts. But this entry wasn't to reminisce on what was but what is, now..  

A year ago, I bought a ticket to visit someone who could care less for me. I paid a taxi, a hotel, the works. To have a single lunch with him.. to end a relationship. Then, a year later, I find myself in quite the opposite predicament. Someone purchased a ticket for me to see him, met me at the airport, took care for my lodging, and had not just a lunch with me.. but multiple lunches and even a couple breakfasts (even if it was the Waffle House)! Hah this guy's awesome. And the best part of it all, was that his agenda wasn't to get into my pants or rekindle any lovin (my heart's unfortunately sitting in an ice cooler, at the moment) it was just two people that got to catch up and come from it, a sincere and honest connection for two. I'm grateful. Not only because I was in such a shitty situation a year ago but because I could also see how much work I've done to be able to "be there" and welcome in that moment so much gratitude.

So, what I'm grateful for this year, is this.. Shitty ass situations. Because it's in those moments - and we all know them so well - that when things do turn out the way it all sort of does or needs to be, we are so much more open, so willing, so evolved that the level of significance to a situation rises because we most certainly know the real value behind it. .. Like my friends from school, applying and getting accepted in medical school.. Success is so much sweeter. And because we are grateful, we can exploit this and approach what we were given with such greatness and receptivity. Crazy how shit can turn into something sweet. Hah okay, okay bad visual. Very bad visual. And with that, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On a Man's Urges.

So to pseudo-rebuttal my last post, On a Woman's Needs. I thought it was only appropriate to write the opposite of a "need" and speak of the extraneous. A luxury. The fulfilling one's desires. Now, of course, not all desires are superfluous. But there are 'urges' that we have that aren't always justified. I actually googled man's urges and got this article about this husband/father that "loved his wife" but can't help his urge to be with other women. He says he has "no complaints except for these feelings", those urges to be with another person. It'd make him happy if he could. But is he justified, then, just because by fulfilling his urge, it'd make his life better? Define better. I know I posed that question in a way you feel obligated to say 'no' but how many times have you said 'yes' in your life? I have.. had. And hurt people by doing so. Also, on the other side of the coin, I have been affected otherwise by people who wanted to "fufill their urges".. Sucks. Never irrevocable. 

I was reading an email that my recent ex-boyfriend wrote me and all I could hear from what he wrote was 'I had an urge to do _____ and to no regard to what that means for you and what we had/have." He cheated, then lied. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't have a clean record; I am not trying to deny that. But my point is this: how/when we fulfull our needs, our wants, our desires, our urges... are we entitled to do so? What if - what we want, what we think/feel makes us happy - hurts another person? Or worst, ourselves. Even when we don't think it does at the moment.. Is there a place where we draw the line when what we do, effects another in a negative way? Are we always justified to do what it takes to "make us happy"? Is that the point of life, at all costs, do what you want to do. Fulfill those needs, satisfy those urges. As attractive as that all sounds, I'm utterly repulsed to think that is the goal of Life. Self-fulfillment.

I can hear my ex-boyfriend, saying. Do what makes you happy. I used to love hearing him say that to me. Until, of course, that ideology hurt me. He had this motto, using the words of Ayn Rand, I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. Yes, it exemplifies self-accountability, responsibility. The lack of depending on others for your needs. Do what you want but do not expect others to make those exceptions for you. We are individuals, competing for resources in this capitalistic world. If we are to achieve the best versions of ourselves, we must do whatever means to achieve that... Yet, in this context, is "best" a synonym for "happiest"?

We should all achieve to be the best version of ourselves, of course. I'm not stupid. But we are so, so interconnected with one another that very rarely do we make decisions that don't affect one another. I believe, being insensitive to that is dangerous. As simple as choosing to not put your blinker on when driving, effects the driver behind you. Or choosing to become a doctor ultimately effects many lives. For the doctor and his patients. What we choose to do not only matters for ourselves but to those close by. 

There is beauty in this osmosis of our decisions. In this intricate world we live in, where we are intermingled, the effect of one decision to another is inevitable. Whether directly or indirectly. And I get it, sometimes we have to make decisions that will make people uncomfortable, will make others feel pain, even when what we say or do is honest and even well-intended. (Although, for the record, his cheating = not well-intended. It was Selfish. His words, not mine.) But isn't that where we have/need to draw a line? What is the difference of self-fulfillment and selfishness? Both got the word, "self" in it. And of course the 'self' isn't innately bad per se. But how does one juggle with what his needs, which are dependent on the survival of the 'self' versus the what he wants, which are part of the his 'self' as well? Wait, am I missing something. What is the purpose of life..? Is it for yourself or for others? Seriously. Not rhetorical.

Yes, yes. The ideal is not absolute but a beautiful blend of both, with least amount of collateral damage. But still. Self-happiness is overrated, whops did I just say that. Ummmm I can feel people 'not liking' me at this very moment.. But I guess the first step is, define what are your 'urges' are. Because sometimes it's not as simple as "I want sex with lots of people". Rather, your  'urge' is a sentiment of not wanting to feel lonely and instead, wanting to be desired, sexy, maybe even loved. Even for a night. Agh, that's what I used to do. And to be honest, wasn't worth it. I think when you can rightfully identify that "urge" and fulfill it in a way that is true, with kindness and compassion, with integrity and courage, in regards to how it may change a life of another. I wish men of my past understood the potency of their decisions. Because the worst part of bad decisions, is that it becomes a permanent narrative in another's life. Ayn Rand's statement is limited. Yes, we should not bow down to anyone or vise versa. No one should be a bitch to anyone. But those that are selfish, those that use others to fulfill their urges, forces others to become theirs. How damaging is that.

.... For what it's worth. I think life is for others. But that's just my two cents, which may be all its worth in the end. Hah! But I believe, I hope that that's not true - the worth two cents part - not the "for others" part.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On a Woman's Needs.

A woman's needs. My needs. Endless, it seems. Agh and the worst is denying those needs, makes me want it even more. But when I can't name what I want, let alone admit it to myself.. then all goes to shit. The WORST is when I fill that one single need with other things.. Oi vei!

We all hungry for it. Probably more than what we would ever want to admit to ourselves. I know that it may be somewhat presumptuous for me to say that this is something we all want but I highly doubt that what I feel is completely foreign. This feeling, this need. To be loved. It's universal and not limited to gender. It is of our strength and our weakness that we humans are able to do this - love! How lucky we are. I want it. More than ever. And not necessarily in terms of a relationship, although I would be totally remiss if I was to say that I am completely closed to it. And whether or not that happens for me again, where I can say I love a man, my current obsession lies not so much in our ability to love but more on what we do to be loved. We are crazy. What we do to be of someone's affection, either directly or indirectly.

For example, let us examine what I did in middle school. I saw my crush playing basketball and so wanted to play but wasn't wearing a cute outfit. So, most logical thing to do for me, was go home, change for a shameless amount of time and then come back, only to see that he already left. Wasn't so smart back then, let it be said. I want to kick the kid-version of myself. Heck, even the adult version sometimes. Ha! 
But the point is, don't we all sort of do this to some extent, in some version, in our current lives? Where how we present ourselves to people become so vitally important, in particular to those of potential (or even, current) lovers of ours? Why is that? What is it that the clothes we choose to wear or how our hair is, become so seemingly relevant. Note, this is not limited to just exterior traits. Our internal features are also included. Just the main difference, and sorta the beauty of it in a way, is that there are less creative ways to fake a less attractive soul. Whoa sorry slight regression, with a hint of resentment. Anyways! 

How we present ourselves. What we do with our lives. Where we spend our energy. How we use our time. All molto importante. Why we do what we do, why it even matters to us. Of course, in the end of the day, we do what we do for ourselves and for no other reason. We do 'what makes us happy'. But would you be upset with me if I were to say, that in part of what makes us happy, is knowing that what we do is not only accepted but also appealing to others? That a part of us wants that feeling that - who we are, what we value, what drives us and motivates us to live the life we've chosen, is something someone finds attractive and dare I say, worthy of love and respect? I'm not saying that we only do whatever we think is accepted by another. With that kind of intention, integrity to oneself would be compromised. What I am saying is, that wanting to be loved is real and tangible. Because! When we don't love, when it may not be returned, either from our family or our friends or our lovers - what we do to fill that void, to compensate, to numb and "be okay" becomes real. We obsess over, occupy ourselves with, to keep ourselves busy, so to not feel the real ramifications of actual loneliness, of being alone. We almost do so subconsciously; to remedy this sentiment of being unloved. I felt it before. We all have. And in turn, did x, y, z things to not feel that way. Unloved.

What I'm trying to say, thought it may not be as obvious, is this. Don't judge the need. It's scary, I get it. Because unlike any of our other needs like food, water, warmth, etc. There isn't necessarily a direct place for you to go to or even if you are "there" it'd be gauranteed. It is a lot less active on our part, less under our control. Our need to be loved by another is not our say. ...Dammit, Freewill! But what we can do in the meantime, and what I'm hoping is enough, is to be authentic and honest with ourselves and with others. And with faith, believe that who we are, and choosing to be every day, is beyond sufficient for love. Hmm, there is one other option to fill one's needs but I'd rather leave that for another entry, another day..

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On Those Big Questions.

It all started when a number of people asked me, "Why aren't you married yet?" 

Now, I can take it two ways. Those that asked knew me when I was in these long term relationship. And so it was assumed that in due time that the 'next step' would be that. Major deductive fallacy. And thank God that it is.. Or, they think that I'm "a nice girl" and that it's surprising that I haven't "caught someone" yet.. agh, seriously?! Grant it, most of these friends are from childhood or high school, so they aren't up-to-date with my current status quo. So, what seems like this irrelevant question to me is actually something appropriate despite these inconvenient feelings I have. I mean, we've all heard them before. Just in different forms. You know, those questions that if unable to provide an adequate response, a sense of discomfort and almost inadequacy rushes on by.. 

What college are you planning to go to? What are you doing after you graduate? Where are you going to move? What kind of work do you do? Are you dating someone? Do you love him (or her)? What's your next step? When are you guys having a baby?

I cringe to some of these questions, which is funny because I actually have answers to some of them! What I think makes these questions sometimes so difficult is that unless we have these stellar answers at hand that 1) not only are the answers people want to hear but also are 2) something that we are proud to say for ourselves. That is not to say that we do things in hopes to impress another person, per se. But there is this definite and almost immediate satisfaction when being ourselves leaves a positive impression with others, i.e. what we do and even more so who we are, are not only accepted but also attractive. 

The reality is that there are these certain steps, these presumed check boxes of things we need (?) to accomplish in our lives. School, job, marriage, home, children, etc. Okay, maybe not all of it but it is suggested, in that order. And for good even logical reason, I believe. Now, before you go and hate on my lack of unconventional ways, I say this only because I am a clear byproduct of all that is non sequitur. Trust me, in that I am not coming from this high horse of conventionality, looking down to those who did not follow this proposed path. I respect and even appreciate the life I experienced, thus far. But I also wonder, would some of those difficulties, despite the lessons and the character I derived from those experiences (which mind you, wasn't always an easy task to find that damn silver lining) could I still have been as 'good' of a person given a more direct route. My friends that lived a more linear and traditional life are they not of the same value as I? And vise versa? If then we are valued the same, then why did my route to the same endpoint became so much more ___- consuming.

I hate that I can't give people more direct answers now in my life. I always was able to, until now. And yet, I am the first person to tell you that I am grateful for the path I've had. I just question its necessity if there may have been a shorter route.  The quickest way from one point to another is a direct line. Given any deterence from that line, there is more time, more money, more energy put into that path. I leave this now with yet another question. Why? Why would that matter - in a specific time - in a specific way? Why do we think that our proposed 5-year plan is best? Why are expectations of others mean so much to me, to you, to anyone? Why. ... Okay but seriously, Why?