Melissa’s Spotlight- A Birthday Gift.

I watch from the sidelines, while you shine on the stage; I’m mesmerized hearing you sing. And who am I? Just an awkward fan. Is it strange that I’m calling myself a fan of yours, as if you’re an A-list celebrity and I’m the overlooked journalist, who’s not trying to exploit you, but just wants to tell you that you’re cool and we should be friends? After all you’re my age, we’re in the same school, same choir. Yet I don’t say anything I stay standing, listening, and watching you in the spotlight.

16 is a funny age, every movie makes it out to be like the prime of your teenage years. My reality was faced with an exceedingly strict upbringing, a cut off from social media. A time where I would sneak eyeliner into my bag, put in on at school, and take it off before I got home. Having the spirit of a queen who wanted to rule, but had a kingdom taken away before I even had a chance to conquer it.

I joined show choir my junior year of high school, hoping that maybe I’ll have a kingdom to rule, finally happy with the people I surrounded myself with. My first encounter with Melissa, isn’t one that she would remember, because she probably couldn’t see my face in the crowd of choir kids. She sang my favorite song, New York State of Mind by Billy Joel. When the song ended I saw a group of kids stand and roar with applause cheering her name; everyone loved her. I instantly realized that I was not going to rule this kingdom either, but for the first time, I was okay with that, this queen seemed pretty great.

After adding her on Facebook, I felt an overcoming amount of envy fill up. As if singing wasn’t enough she was perhaps the most photogenic  16- year- old I’ve ever seen. Her pictures were filled with comments of a myriads of friends ( or fans) commenting about her perfection. Not to mention her hair had been dyed red. I had been begging my parents to let me dye my hair red for years, and here she was with a luscious and thick head full of the most gorgeous mahogany red hair. Melissa was everything I wanted to be in high school, loved, confident, intelligent, but never cruel to others. She was always one step ahead of the trend, not afraid to be different, but praised for it. She was the star of the show, playing a princess with a powerful voice, and I, I was merely just a member of the ensemble who never got tired of watching her shine.

The remainder of high school certainly was better than the last several years of my education, yet I still remained without a kingdom conquered. But a silver lining appeared; early December of 2013, I had gotten into Marymount Manhattan College. It was a small liberal arts college in the upper east side of New York City. There was my ticket out of a small town and into the bustling city where I believed the rest of my future waited for me. A new start and a new life where I could finally reign as the uptown girl from a downtown world I wanted to be.

Complications arose, and after fighting harder than I ever had in my life, I made my commitment to Cal State Fullerton, under one condition, I would be living on campus, not with my parents.

Feeling defeated, I tried not to talk about my future with my classmates who were traveling around the country for their future. When graduation day was arriving, they posted the list of which seniors would be attending which school, and to my surprise, I saw Melissa’s name next to mine on the list for CSUF

If I remembered correctly, Melissa had gotten into Berklee College of Music in Boston; A school full of opportunities and experiences that would suit her so perfectly. I was so excited for her, because I couldn’t imagine anyone else who could possibly deserved a chance like that. But This girl who I had considered to be a star of the show, was now going to be a regular Cal State classmate just like me. Both of us were going to staying in the freshman dorms of CSUF, eating in the same cafeteria, taking the same bus to get to work, and overall, both of us were going to be living a life completely different than what we had expected merely less than a year before.

After discovering we had a class together, and sticking together due to our common bond, Melissa and I were spending a remarkable amount of time together. She taught me the ways of doing my eyebrows, and the art of aesthetic, and I felt like Elphaba in Wicked when Galinda teaches her to be popular. Though let’s be honest, personality wise, I’m the bubbly and sparkly one, while Melissa is a bit more reserved than I am. In the year that we were dorming we became the closest of  friends in our little friendship group, I think it’s perhaps we both felt this overwhelming sense that we weren’t exactly where we were suppose to be. We became roommates and the best of friends.

Melissa was quicker to realize her unhappiness in her path that I was, and in ways I regret, I believe I envied her for that too, but unlike high school I couldn’t take my envious behavior and watch her shine from a distance. We were too close, so instead of helping her shine like a friend, I wanted my light to outshine hers.

Despite every obstacle and the world saying there is only way way to succeed in this life, Melissa showed that none of that matter to her and she was going to continue to do her own thing . I watched as the people who would comment about her perfection whenever she posted something a little different that made her stand out of the crowd, slowly faded into the distance, and for a little while, I become one of them. When in reality I was just wondering how she could be so confident without the approval of the peers she once knew so well, but she was no longer the Melissa they once knew.

She had blossomed, and had done so gracefully and quicker than most of the people we knew, and certainly faster than me.  During my time of envy, Melissa still remained praising me, defending me, and supporting me in all my adventures. She was the true embodiment of a queen who fixes other queen’s crowns, someone who finds beauty in people and captures it so she can show them what others see.  And while I might have rolled my eyes as her aesthetic, I was blind to see the art and creativity she carries in her heart. But once I had grown and opened my eyes and my mind to her world, I realized that she wasn’t on the ground, she was flying about everyone else; it was just a matter of time before I learned how to fly as well.

I’m so incredibly proud of Melissa as she reminds me to search for the good in the world and possible paths a person has in their life,  She is not the same girl who would stand in the spotlight, but I’m no longer the girl who watched her from the wings. Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned through the past several years is you don’t need to conquer and gain the affection of a whole kingdom to be a queen, you simply have to believe you are one. I don’t fight or envy Melissa’s spotlight, because we each have a different stage and a different show to preform.

Four years ago, I would have been speechless if you told me that Melissa was going to be one of my best friends, and someone who I no longer can envision my life without. I’m grateful for her and I value our friendship to no ends; I will always be here to fix her crown.

Jesus is a Feminist

Everyday I check the Facebook section of what happened on this day, usually full of laughs of my former old self. I came across a status expressing how excited I was to go the bible study that night and I saw my old youth pastor, Travis,  commented. I removed him and several others from my friends list a while ago, but I decided to check in on him.

He seems to be doing alright, he’s still working for the church, extremely passionate about his job, and him and his wife are expecting a baby next month. I’m incredibly happy for him.

Scrolling through some of his most recent Facebook posts and I see one that says “Remember when your life didn’t suck so much back when you use to go to church?? Yeah maybe you should go back.” I doubted this post was directly at me, after all Travis was the kind of guy who would send out massive texts to the community inviting them to church saying” Be there or be square.”

Yet I imagined that it could be about me. After all I ,by his definition, have I become one of those former youth kids he mentioned in one of his sermons that have run away from God. I didn’t attend church anymore, I don’t listen to christian music or give my weekly donation to the church.  However, to be quite honest that didn’t bother me as much as I’m sure it would have 6 years ago. So I began reminiscing on all my old church days I look back on the 10+ years I spent in SeaCoast Grace.

There isn’t a time in my childhood I don’t remember learning about God or attending Sunday School. Each week I would arrive in a dress and a bible in hand, reciting the verse I had learned the week before. Most of my memories at my church were good ones, carnivals, pizza parties, vacation bible school filled with the simplest, yet most important lessons the bible could teach. God loves you, and he wants you to love others.

Time went on, and the lessons of the church intensified, I met young aspiring pastors, such as Travis, with a passion for bringing the community to the church. I wanted to befriend them, and be just like them. Travis and the other pastors were telling us every week to invite friends, throwing lavish events with young modern music, and wild games trying to attract the youth. It wasn’t long before my classmates started to show up to my church. I gained a hierarchy when they entered my sanctuary, I was better than them, they weren’t true Christians.  They partied and played while I prayed, volunteered my time with children and to the church. I wrote journals during the prime christian years of my life. The entries now are good for a laugh; my friends often quote it, one even used a passage as inspiration for a monologue. Reading back on them it’s hard to imagine how incredibly closed minded and judgmental I was.

I don’t read my old journals to necessarily make myself better , nor am I here to write about my transformation from a hateful christian to someone who is a feminist who supports burning down churches. Instead I keep them as a reminder of why I’m fighting as hard as I too make sure the message of love and acceptance is the main the one I’m trying to spread, like Christians are suppose to do.

Let me be clear as well, a person filled with love and acceptance is not the person who rants on Facebook about boycotting a movie with a gay agenda or screams at planned parenthood for murdering babies, but then adds ” I love all people” to sugarcoat their post. Saying “Love the sinner, but hate the sin” is nothing but a person using God as justification for their own hateful and judgmental prejudice.

Yes of course, not everyone  with a religious background is like this, however the sad reality is an extremely loud majority of people are. 60 million people voted for Donald Trump, regardless of their reasoning, there are self proclaim Christians who believe that he is the candidate God would have wanted America.

This not only contradicts the idea of freedom of religion in this country and the separation of church and state, but there’s literally a whole book, that explains why Jesus would never support a man like Donald Trump- it’s called the Bible.

And while I’m bringing up the holy text itself, if one were to read it carefully they would see: Jesus is a feminist

Jesus would have supported the BLM movement, and he would have looked at the LGBTQA community and say “You’re welcome here, I love you, I’m sorry people have taught you otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with your love for another human.” He takes the women who have bee hurt by men and reminds them of their value. And he would have undoubtedly found room and hospitality for Syrian Refugees. Jesus frowns upon those who protect their wealth over humanity and has called out hypocrites who criticize others for acting as if they are better than anyone else. He spent time with the sick, the poor, the outcasts, the ones that the so called Christians would not dare come close too. He shares love equally despite age, gender, race, sexuality, and wealth.

Intersectional feminism is about the political, economical, and social equality of the sexes, regardless of sexuality, religion, etc, if you don’t think that God isn’t supportive of a movement such as that, then quite frankly, It’s not a God I would want to worship.

Just because you go to church does not make you a good person, and in the past 4 years, I’ve met more accepting humans outside my church community, who have supported me and everyone else more than the church ever has. And I don’t believe me pushing my Christian background onto them will make them a more valuable human, because they are amazing exactly how they are; and I don’t wish to change that.

Being a queer, a feminist, and a Christian can be a lonely feeling, because it seems like the you can’t be both. I have found despite the endless hatred I have been shown by the Christian community, love actually is all around. I see it in my  Grandmother who taught me that being gay can’t be a sin because how can love for another human ever possibly be wrong, I see it in my manager who hugged me and told me not only they were proud of the person I had become, but God was too; he knows my heart and no one ever gets to tell me otherwise.  Above all I find God’s love in the children I once worked with, and the children I get to meet everyday.

Jesus once said:  “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

For a child lives their life with open-mindedness and love. They soak up things like a sponge, and grow up unaware of the evil around them. So they love before one is taught to hate, to look at colors and see one as good and the other as bad, or to think that we must value lives of certain people over another.  It was the years of my early youth, where I truly remember having a wild imagination seeing everything in bright colors and with happiness. To often it’s when a child grows up they lose their sense of acceptance, but I truly believe that Christianity is meant to restore that childlike feeling and let it shine through the world.

I’m eternally grateful to have to opportunity to continue to grow into the woman that I know God wants me to be, but I know I wouldn’t be this passionate if it wasn’t for the powerful women that have empowered me through my life. The greatest lesson I’ve learned was one the church never taught me; it is not your religious belief, the amount of times you pray, the hours you spend at a sanctuary that makes you a beautiful person, but it is your treatment of others around you and of lesser privilege. It’s standing for a movement that reminds people that matter who you are, where you’re from, how any person has ever made you feel, you are so incredibly important to this world.

 

 

Find Happiness Right Where You Are

Yesterday I rang up a family who absolutely touched my heart, and I know I needed to share this.

A couple came up to the register in Elias. They had a son, who couldn’t be any older than 4, in a stroller. They were holding an Ariel bubble wand, and I was expecting them to ask if we “had any boy ones.” But they seemed content with the Ariel one. It was towards the end of the night and the couple was trying to get their son to get out of the stroller or at least say hi, but I knew he was tired.I asked the him if he wanted me to set it up, and his face lit up with excitement. I started to tell him how much I love Ariel. He was a little shy, so his parents told me how much he loved Ariel too .
I said ” Ariel has always been my favorite, however I have to say, I now have so much love for Moana, she could be my new favorite”

They said Moana was his favorite too and ask him to get out of the stroller so he could show me that he was wearing Moana’s dress. He was so incredibly happy showing it off. The couple also said how much people had been staring at him all day. Without hesitation I said ” They’re staring because we’re sold out of Moana’s dress, so they’re probably all wondering where you got such a great costume. After all Moana is super cool, who wouldn’t want to wear her dress”
I continued to set up the bubble wand, and came from behind the counter so I could hand it to him and show him how to turn it on. He started jumping around with the bubbles before I even go a chance to give it to him”
Looking at him at I said, “you know, if you think about it, Moana and Ariel would be really great friends, make sure you give both of them a big hug for me okay”
As the couple left, they thanked me for spending time talking to their son and for telling him it’s okay for boys to like princesses

After this transaction I had to step away for a brief moment because I had started tearing up a little bit. Anyone who follows me on social media knows I’m unapologetic when it comes to my stance for equality. To me, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything special; I was just doing exactly what I try to speak up for everyday- I was being myself. I realized they were thanking me because of the amount of judgment they must receive from the world, but in reality I wanted to be thanking them. Especially in today’s modern world, it becomes hard to see love and acceptance when society is filled with so much hate. They touched my heart more than I could have touched theirs, because to me it is people like them that carry the hope for the future. I saw nothing but absolute happiness from this family, and here’s to the couples like them- to the ones creating a generation of love, compassion and acceptance, and just letting kids be the natural loving kids they are meant to be.
Love wins. Love will always win

I’m With the Stupid

I sit down at a table with someone who is  extremely dear to me; he listens to me ramble on about god knows what. Subtly I notice he is smiling, but at what? I blush and look down and apologize. ” I’m sorry, I talk too much.”I’ve grown accustomed to saying this phrase at least one with every interaction, regardless if  I’m close to them or meeting them for the first time.

Since I was young I’ve been called the oh so cliche, “Miss Chatty Cathy.” All my report cards from elementary school with graciously read “Jaymeann is a bright creative girl, but gets distracted rather easily and just loves to talk.” I would see these comments and walk away with a smirk, I wore my outgoing personality with absolute pride.

The confidence and ability to embrace the traits that made me myself, helped me as I continued to spend my free time as a performer and creating friendships I would hope last me for quite some time. I wish I had maintained that confidence as the years continued, but it was short-lived

At 12 -years – old, I was in my very first set of honors classes, I raised my hand to answer a question, my interpretation of the book we were reading, and there was an outburst of laughter. The way I had seen it was just far too optimistic, the book was too dark for me. I had never been so scared to volunteer in class before, but I spent most of my English class, my favorite subject, sitting in the corner hoping that no one would think I was stupid..History wasn’t any better, as my teacher felt the need to mimic the way that I spoke, using over-dramatic hand gestures and a high pitch voice. The students felt it was okay to join along.

I was Elle Woods for Halloween, and nobody even blinked. To them- it wasn’t even a costume, I was a dumb blond in disguise anyways. At the time, I never looked as Elle as the hero that I see and inspiration as I see her as now. The woman that stood up to every single stereotype and fought against misogyny, and treated everyone with kindness. I saw her the way  I believed people saw me, shallow, stupid, and completely “not serious”

We don’t want to work with you, we want smart people in this group”

“But I have a B in this class”

“I’m sorry, not good enough, besides, you’d probably just talk the whole time anyways”

Cruelty of middle schoolers has never been a surprise, but I never wanted to fight back with words. Instead I thought I’m just going to change every aspect about me.Slowly I began to second guess every decision I made. “Don’t speak”- I would tell myself that. All of sudden all those small little comments about how I was always happy, contributed to the fear of never being good enough, or stupid.

From 7th grade on, I remained not only extremely timid, but became apologetic of the traits that had made me the person I am. The whole “Don’t talk so much”  solution never really never worked for me. How is it that the trait I once took so much happiness in being known for, humiliated me. I spent high school constantly worried about saying a word, though that never happened. Turning in essays with apology notes attached to it. I constantly had to remind those who mocked me that I wasn’t stupid.  Anxiety grew, yet I tried my hardest to keep that smile that so many people said made me so approachable. A kindness that also played a part  of people viewing me as vulnerable.

It was never about talking too much,  because as much as I tried to cover it up, I wore my personality on my sleeve. It was the assumptions that came with it and the intense insecurities followed by crippling anxiety I developed over the years. Once I got to college I was so beyond overwhelmed to introduce myself to anyone out of the fear of  that my new fellow classmates would find me unintelligent and unworthy of being in college at all. And some of them did;  one person guessed that I must have been a cheerleader in high school because I was just so incredibly perky. Another told me that I’m probably never going to be able to lead people properly because men would never take a girl like me seriously.

Perhaps my biggest fear was not that people believed that I’m an airhead, but it’s that my voice, my worth is never going to be seen as more than a bubbly bimbo who wouldn’t ever make it far in life. It started to seem that no one ever willing to look past me. And that my kindness would forever be something people take advantage. I’m too happy, too outgoing, too stupid

Half my life I believed that perhaps I was incapable and helpless to do anything right, but there’s something about looking at the world with the sense of hope that has brought me this far. Perhaps there are worse things to be called in life, and now I see maybe I shouldn’t ever take offense to those remarks- because sometimes when people tell you you’re too much of something, that’s exactly what you’re suppose to give to the world. Those who choose not to hear the words behind my smile or see the dedication and fighting spirit behind my actions- then they simply do not deserve my voice altogether.

Though I’ve grown, and many hoped, myself including myself, that maybe I would be a bit quieter as I grew up. However it wasn’t the quantity of my speech, but the quality that changed. See if my words are filled with courage and kindness than what more can I change. I’m never going to be a Stanford Grad or pass the LSATs; some days I can’t even walk without falling or crashing into others. Little things get me excited, I’m loud, I’m easily startled and  I’m often oblivious to things that are right in front of my face.  If people want to see me as dumb, that’s on them, I know I’m not and that true stupidity lies in the inability to have compassion and an open mind. My heart is full of so much love to spread, and I will continue use my voice in a fight for equality and to speak for those who feel like they have none. And I want to remind them, their voice, is the most powerful weapon someone can hold. Call me that loud overly opinionated feminist, or even stupid. However kindness is a gift. For so many people have the ability to make a change in the world with their talents but just walk on by, the chance to show kindness is truly a gift given and a gift to be shared.

“Yeah she talks a lot” I still will turn my head and freeze whenever I heard that comment, but those who choose to listen will know the words I say come with a purpose. My voice is my power, my ability and my strength that people have tried to play as my weakness.

I identify with Elle now and see her as a role model and motivation as I continue to move forward with my career.  My personality that caused so much anxiety, that people tried to turn into a negative ended up being the exact thing that landed me the job of my dreams at merely 20 years old. My new job with the Disneyland, though every role is a starring one, allows me to use my heart, and my voice, to create happiness. And though I still get fearful and doubtful every now and then of how people are going to see me, I know that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. I’m surrounded by a job that uses my best abilities to their advantage, and people who finally see my message behind my smile. As I continue to move forward with this company, I do want to be a leader. But what good is that power if i don’t use it to make a  positive and compassionate difference in my workplace, in my community, and to those in my life. I want my chance to make my difference as a leader and have my heart be my crowning glory.

 

“I’m sorry, I talk too much”

” No you don’t”

“You don’t have to sugarcoat it, I get excited easily- I know I always have a lot to say”

“I’m not sugarcoating anything; because you do talk a lot,

“Oh?”

“But not too much, never too much”

It’s all so clear, I’m where I’m meant to be.

Validation Not Needed

“Jaymeann, my dear, you should go back on your medication for anxiety and depression…”

I’ve been seeing “Mark” for about a month now and he’s already witnessed me go through so much in the past month: a car accident, a court case, and just about everything in between.

My time with him has been filled with such remarks. All ranging from the way I should grow my hair back out because he liked it more, to how I was always going to be seen as a sexual object to other men. Mark often told me I was far too naive for this world simply because of my optimistic attitude, and found every opportunity to talk over me and prove to me that he knew more about this world than me. There was an 8 year age difference between us, and he never once failed to mention that he was significantly more mature and more aware than I ever will be, telling me listening to heart was a sign of my immaturity and I would grow out of it.

But this comment really caught my attention. For a moment I was in awe of his concern. Thinking “wow, here’s someone looking at me with caring eyes, and wanting the absolute best for me.”

He continues

” You’re just far too worrisome, you need to take better care of yourself, for no one is going to want to be with a moody crazy bitch, no one is going to be able to handle it” He continues to speak, as if he knew every single one of my fears and had decided bring them all to life.

I’m speechless, I am angry, livid actually, and I look at him wanting to scream and unleash the wrath that he deserved. The audacity, to not only make comments and judgement about my mental well being but to assume that the actions I made were that to impress a man and that my I took care of myself purely to have validation in the world.

Yet, I stand there not saying a word.

“Fight, Jaymeann, fight, you’re angry, show it, you have every right to be.”

Do I though?

I realize, I’m mad at everything he doesn’t know.

Mark sees my silence as an opportunity to speak what he thinks to be true. But my silence to me is nothing but a reminder of the years I spent being told I wasn’t allowed to be angry, or at least I wasn’t allowed to show it. My anger wasn’t valid because the words that brought me down were spoken out of love ( which eventually I learned was not the case), as if it was suppose to justify their abusive actions. I didn’t have a voice, and I spent my nights writing my feelings whether it be of hurt or of happiness, in journals that I would hide under my bed. It was the only way I was able to say anything at all. But Mark doesn’t know that.

He is also completely unaware that despite how I felt about his words, I couldn’t help  but remember that he was in fact correct in my search for validation and that a  year ago when I had checked into therapy and started taking medication it was all in hopes to bring back a boy who no longer wanted to love me. He had instilled the fear in me that my new job was going to eat me alive and that he would have broken up with me sooner, but knew if he did, I would have been too anxious to go to my Disney interview. And now I was far too anxious to even begin. I wanted to change so all my new co-workers would like me but clearly I wanted to change for him as well.

Mark keeps talking, now saying that he’s only saying these things because he cares about me, but he’s also just not going to deal with me in this way. Every word out of his mouth is just another fear I’ve been telling myself can’t be true. “You’re not gonna be successful with your anxiety” “People are going to think that you can’t take care of yourself.” I ask myself if he doesn’t know why I’m angry, should I be?  But there’s so much more he doesn’t know.

He knows nothing about the strength and comfort I found in myself in the past year, and how I’ve discovered so much about myself. I was walking into a new job constantly replaying the words ” you’re too unstable for this” in my head and was overwhelmed before I even started. But with each new day, each friendly face I met and each step I took, I could walk into that same job and know this is exactly where I’m meant to be. I call Disneyland my home not because it is my life, but it saved my life. I slowly but surely found I no longer was shaking before I walked into a new room, changed my major and found a brand new career path that inspires me to wear a genuine smile every day because I get to do what I love. No longer did I care to make decisions over someone who walked away from my life.

Eventually I was able to forgave my abuser and find solace that my future isn’t going to be anything like their life is. Often I am called perky, giddy, and by Mark, naive; however to look at the world positively and with hope does not make me naive, but instead shows that I choose to live my life with the courage that tomorrow is going to be a better day. I’ve said good riddance to toxic people in my life and have surrounded myself with such wonderful and beautiful people., and have spent my time falling in love with the little things life had to offer me. I no longer ask for help in hopes that it will impress someone who doesn’t love me, nor do I hide my writing under my pillow where no one can see. I use my writing as my voice, and my passion for equality to speak for those who don’t have the chance. My words and my abilities are powerful.

I’ve spent the past year making sure that everyone knows what they feel and what they want to be, is valid; no else needs to tell them that for it to be true. Why should I allow myself to be contained the same walls I had been knocking down for others?

So yes I should be angry, And I have every right to be. I easily could have looked at my time with Mark as a step back in my journey, but I saw it as another lesson I needed to learn.

I’ve learned that I don’t think I’m best able to express my anger through loud voices or cruelty. Anger doesn’t need to be shouted to be seen or heard to even make a difference. I choose to use my anger to educate and make others aware not only the importance of equality, but why it’s important to always be a little kinder than necessary. Even to those who might not deserve it; I find they need it the most

Knowing that I no longer can spend my time with Mark and choosing my battles, I silently look up at him and kiss his cheek and I say nod in agreement. And with the help of a great friend of mine I was able to gain the strength to completely walk away from him the next day.

One might think I would have been disappointed in walking away silently but I didn’t forget that strong feeling of anger and violation; I use it as a motivation to live each day a little better and a little stronger.

My anxiety and depression are still a part of my life, but it is not a part of me. Some days are better than others, but I refuse to be defined by the bad days and more importantly I refuse to be defined by those who believe my actions should be made in order to please them.

One year ago today I was going to crash my car in the hopes that I would not make survive; I didn’t want to live anymore. I reached about 100mph before I started sobbing uncontrollably finally aware of what I was about to do and I finally pulled over to catch my breath and drove to my best friends house instead. Two days later I checked into therapy, and two weeks later I started working for Disney and started the best adventure of my life and remembered how wonderful it is to be alive. All the Marks in the world, may remind me of why I’m scared, but they aren’t going to take away the courage I have to keep on fighting.

So here’s to the past year of being alive.

I’m still here.I’m still alive, and I’m so incredible happy that I am.

 

 

Fall 2016

(Something I posted on facebook that I thought I should  share)

I almost flunked out of college my first year- to the point where I was highly debating just dropping out all together- I was depressed and didn’t see the point of me going to school or planning for a future, when it probably wasn’t going to take off anywhere. I felt very alone and isolated. I could go on, but to put it simply, I have lost all vision and motivation to keep moving forward; I was in a rut.

The end freshman year, I was almost positive I wasn’t going to be allowed back, but by some grace of God or pure luck, I ended up acing one of my 5 classes, ultimately saving myself from getting kicked out.

The following year I set up to do better,I sought out mental health , I changed my major, and had my friends keep me accountable. I found classes , and a job that I loved and set up a school/work schedule so it would be easier for me to study.
However another obstacle came in the way- due to my low GPA, I no longer met the standards to qualify for financial aid, I didn’t have the money to pay for any of my classes. This caused significant stress on me, resulting in me picking up more shifts and another job to pay off for school, and not enough time for me to actually study and take care of my schooling.
Plus the fact that I had to build my GPA back up- which was nearly impossible to do in just one semester alone ( so many courses to repeat ), so even though I finally began to do well in my classes, my GPA still wasn’t where it should be.

So many tears and sleepless nights were involved. I doubted myself, I constantly didn’t know if I could do it- and considered dropping out again, and just working full time

Towards the middle of second semester, I had to turn a few works of writing to my Comm professor. I’ve always loved writing, and have always wanted to incorporate that into any future career I will have.
He went out of his way to let me know that my articles were some of the best in the class and he wanted to work with me on getting my work published- I’ve always thought I was a good writer, but here was a professional journalist himself, telling me the same thing. He wanted to help me become a better writer.
And it was that reminder that I’m in school not just to take tests and get good grades, but to build my skill as a writer, as a human, to learn about the world and how I can use my words, and my voice to change it. I am powerful, I am intelligent, and I’m not going to let my worth be determined by an education system that tells their students they aren’t smart because they can’t answer the correct response in a multiple choice test. This is where I want to be, this is where I’m going to grow, and it doesn’t matter if the world is working against me, the fact that I’m continuing to go to school and fight until I get my degree is all that matters
At the end of last semester, I was just barely making ( actually crawling ) to the finish line, but I did finish. That’s all that matters

And here I am about to enter my third year of college, finally at a GPA that not only meets CSUF’s standards, but mine as well. I quit my second job to make time for now my TWO majors, that I’m absolutely in love with( Entertainment/ Tourism and American Studies), and I’m happy with my current job. I’m surrounded by the best of friends who are walking with me in this everyday, and by inspiration of others who never gave up on their education even when it seemed like there was no way they could go on.
And to my dear friends, my favorite girls and For everyone else who have stood by my side the last 3 years I thank you and I love you all. It’s going to be rough the next couple of years, but I just keep telling myself to look where I am, and to remember where I started.

Fall 2016 I’m coming for you, and I’m so ready, and I’m going to keep moving forward
“I’m not throwing away my shot ”
Not this time. Not ever

Any Less Human

Last night I received a racist comment about myself from a guest.

While making a purchase, the guest asked me where I was from. “I’m from Southern California.” He looked and me said ” No like, where are you actually from, because well I can see you have a darker skin color.” I just continued to answer saying, I was born in California and have lived here my entire life.
” But where are you ACTUALLY from, what’s your parents nationality”
“Well sir, my mother is from the Philippines, while my father and his family were born in Nebraska”
“Oh well, It’s a good thing your dad is white, and you have that good side of you. But hey, at least your mom is probably a good cook- it’s probably what she could teach you”

I know a lot of people would be wondering why I didn’t say anything to him, or tell my lead, but to be quite honest I was too shocked and appalled that someone would want me to be my proud of my white side versus my Filipino side.
It’s clear just by looking at me that I am completely of white descent. I’m brown- I always will be,and I’m so happy that I am. But it wasn’t always that way.
I grew up often wishing I could have white skin because that’s what all the princesses were. I refused to watch anime and often avoided hanging out with other Filipinos because I didn’t want to fit into a stereotype I thoroughly grew up believing my white side, was the better side of me because of what was presented to me through the media, the same media that I wanted to make a career out of..As much as I could go on and on about this, I eventually learned to love my biracial heritage.
However part of me accepting and loving my heritage also comes along with me accepting that though I am a woman of color, I myself have to check my privilege because I don’t have to worry about just being another statistic if I let my grades slip. I don’t have to fear for my life when I see police officers. I don’t have to fear getting assaulted or even murdered when I go to the bathroom.
Racism is very real, that one comment I received doesn’t even begin to describe the brutality that occurs everyday. And the fact that we have a man runs on the fears of others possibility becoming our president terrifies me. And should terrify you too.
Racism and oppression still thrive in this country. And just because it’s not always as clear as Donald Trump wanting to ban all Muslims from entering the country doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen every moment of every day. To say that racism is over because segregation is just means you aren’t opening your eyes. Fear has created so much hatred and close mindedness. But if you truly look around, you would see the world is actually a magical place.
Immigrants and people of color are what make this country beautiful. They aren’t any less human than you are.

***And actually my mother never taught me how to cook, she did however teach me to treat everyone I meet with kindness and understanding.

Finding Neverland

New York City was my emerald city and I was Dorothy following the yellow brick road to this place I had never been, but it was going to be were my dreams could come true. It was the place I would beg my parents to plan a vacation too instead of another camping trip. In all my favorite movies, New York was romanticized as this incredible city where people fall in love and people would all move to their own beat, and no would ever criticize you because your punk rock style was different from there jazzy blues.

The more I grew up, the more NYC represented a freedom away from a strict childhood, and as I fell in love with Broadway I was convinced of that faithful day that I would own an apartment right on Times Square and see a Broadway show every week. This is the life of the glamorous writer going to the Met Galas and walking down the street in my high heels I wanted for myself. I’ve written about this image I’ve created for myself not only in my previous articles, but throughout my whole life. Imagining the bustling movement of the city created excitement and I waited for that faithful day where I could call New York mine. One day the greatest city in the world would be my home.

I’ve always imagined knowing that I’ve found a home, would be the same feeling I’ve had whenever I’ve fallen in love. Like knowing that I was exactly where I needed to be; I wouldn’t be thinking about anything else, only about the feeling over overwhelming excitement, that moment you forget to breathe, and it’s terrifying, but in the best way possible.

When I got out of my taxi cab and stepped onto the streets for the first time, I felt excited, and proud that I had finally made it to New York. Yet it took me all of a minute to realize, something wasn’t right. Why wasn’t I crying the tears of excitement, why wasn’t my heart beating fast, had  I hyped up this city too much?

The next 24 hours I spend getting lost in the city, admiring my hotel views, and fulfilling the dream of finally running through central park singing along to That’s How You Know from Enchanted. New York was lovely, and I didn’t mind the crowd and loved the ability  to fiercely independent. I took hundreds of pictures for the views were truly something my Californian self wasn’t use too. Manhattan truly was the greatest city there was, yet as much as it killed me, I didn’t think I was going to be able call this place my home.

Then finally at night, my real childhood dream was about come true; my first Broadway show. When given the selection among the myriad of shows I could see, the choice was simple: Finding Neverland. A fellow thespian might wonder why I chose that as the first Broadway show I would see when there iconic shows such as Lion King and Kinky Boots on the scene. Simply,Finding Neverland is my favorite movie, in fact I love the movie more than I love Peter Pan itself. As a writer I find inspiration and as a human I find the messages of the film always leave me in awe. I had been following the production of the musical for years; it would be foolish of me of to not choose this as the first official Broadway musical to see.

My seats were orchestra and my body shaking of pure happiness as I held up my first  Broadway playbill. With the sound of the first song, the lights dimmed and the curtain rose as I see Peter Pan chasing after tinker bell, laughing ever so giddily. The opening number began intensely and I was completely unable to hold back my smile. I love the film ever so much and the musical had captured all the elements that made the film special in my heart. I clapped profoundly after each number and found with each smile and each burst of laughter created by the musical, I wasn’t worrying about what frightened me or made me feel alone. It wasn’t even 2 minutes into intermission before I decided to buy around 100 dollars of Finding Neverland merchandise, the money didn’t bother me; I knew it was the right thing to do. I could have taken the whole production home if I could

Now onto to the second act, where I found myself for the first time in over 7 months finally able to sob as I watched my favorite character get to travel to the eternal magical place called Neverland. As the ensemble sang and she flew off into the sky I all I wanted to do was jump out of my seat and fly with her- after all I had enough faith and that’s what flying is, having absolute faith. And when I walked out of that theatre and back onto Times Square I felt like I was leaving a part of my heart behind and I just wanted to go back even for a simple moment.

Everything about being in that room was overwhelming in the best way possible. Finding Neverland  the musical enlightened my imagination and left me speechless, in tears of happiness, completely oblivious to anything else that could possibly be happening. It had been so long since I’ve last felt this way that I almost didn’t realize I had fallen in love, not with a city, with a musical. The world is in love with Peter Pan, but I, I was in love with the land of J.M Barrie’s creation and wanted to join Sylvia in her journey to Neverland.  I wanted to go with her and escape that crocodile called time that constantly seemed to chase after me and tell me that I needed to figure out my life and I was getting to old to be a dreamer.

The rest of my time in New York I spent either listening to the Finding Neverland soundtrack, talking about it like a giddy school girl, or wishing I was already back at my job at the Disneyland resort. 19 years thinking New York, as wonderful as it is, was my home and I spent it wanting to go back to Disneyland. In that very moment I realized I spent my life in search of a home, but I was already there. Not a single day in my job goes without a smile and song. Every adult guest I’ve encountered carries the spirit of the 5 – year- old on their way to meet Mickey Mouse, a spirit full of promise and enthusiasm. Disneyland is timeless magical, and Disneyland is forever. Everyday I get to see and be apart of the magic that makes dreams turn into a reality, that alone gives me the strength to carry on with my life that at most times doesn’t feel like I’m getting something right. And that’s a home, a place where you’re surrounded by so much love and magic that life seems timeless.

Just like Dorothy the Emerald City isn’t my home. New York is beautiful, thriving, and I hope to come back and visit. I spent a lifetime on the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City, but this whole time Neverland was where I’m meant to be and where I’m going to stay. After all: There’s no place quiet like home.

An Open Letter to a Campus Preacher

Dear Campus Preacher of CSUF
You caught my attention while I was walking to class when you said ” women who shop at victoria’s secret are whores. ” I continued to listen as you said homosexuals are disgusting, women belong in the kitchen, and that women who don’t live for men are whores and they need a real man like you to lead them.
You also proclaimed to be every girl’s dream man and a man who is just like Jesus because he spends his time with the “whores”
And you certainly angered everyone in the crowd of hundreds when you said how Muslims worship a God who is both a murder and a pedophile,
Then a brave young girl had the courage to stand against you to take this opportunity to promote her volunteer group called Together Free (To get her free ) that raises money for victims of sexual abuse and sex trafficking, while you screamed over her and continued to call women whores. She asked for people to meet with her in the corner for more information about her group. Despite what you think, they were clapping for her, not for you.
My friends and I walked over to her and commended her on her bravery, but what we realized was though everyone supported this young girl- they stayed watching and screaming back at you. I myself found that I wanted to head back into the mob of students listening to you.
That’s when I realized our attention is focused towards what is cruel and heartless versus those who are trying to do something good. There were hundreds of people in that crowd, and I can only imagine how much of a difference we all could have made supporting the victims of sex trafficking versus yelling at you, a man who’s opinion we were never going to change.
I wanted to get that you off that stage as much as anyone else, but I think a much better use of my time would be to use that anger and put into making a difference for the things we can change. Because it’s clearly not going to be the opinions of a homophobic racist.
And dear Campus preacher, You spoke of your favorite passages in the bible that mentioned how sinner’s will be going to hell. Now allow me to share my favorite verse:
” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
I pray you find kindness and love in this life,
Sincerely,
A former Sunday School girl.