Sunday, July 23, 2017
For so long, my livelihood has depended on both my digital organizing and story telling that I can't see myself doing any other kind of work. Now I'm getting to the point of not wanting to be in front of a computer screen because of eye strain and because so much has changed as well. I've been able to keep up and adapt to keep myself relevant to whatever is going on, but this year I started shifting and loosing up on a few things as well. For the longest time, I had my own unwritten rule book about how things should be posted, when, how they should look, ways to maximize engagement, impressions, views etc. It's something I developed from my days in college and being a journalism major. I treated social media as an extension of journalism, so there had to be some basic structures and guidelines to things, other wise it would all be unusable randomness that couldn't be tracked or quantified. Said unwritten rules have helped me other the last 10 years, but things have changed so much now that I want to continue experimenting with new and traditional ways of getting information and stories out there.
I have ideas, but not enough time or resources to pull it off on my own. At the same time, if I start something, how far will I see it through? Quality takes time and energy and some days, I could care less. As fulfilling as it is, I don't want it turning into another item on my to do list that I need to grind through. At the same time though, there are so many new voices out there today that it becomes overwhelming. I remember a time when content creators of color were a rare and you had to go out of your way to find them and support them because many didn't last that long. Now I have a smorgasbord of content to chose from at any given time, but again, it's just overwhelming. If I wanna listen/watch discussions about a show, I first have to be caught up w said show to avoid spoilers & to be engaged in the discussion. Not to mention the endless possibilities that are possible thanks to the intersectionalities of our lives and everything in-between.
I think about all that and kinda wonder where I would fall in, you know. What do I bring to the table that will be of interest to others but also be sustainable. Facebook and Twitter have become my go to outlets for speaking my mind and sharing what I'm into at the moment. Not too long ago, I had a few blogs in which I could share what was going with me or around me in a more communal form. now, except for this one, I don't really have those outlets anymore. Like I said, way more voices are in the mix now and some get more play than others for one reason or another, it's the way of the world. I think back on those times and I was having a blast in spite of everything that was going on. I made it work and it helped me get where I am today and where am I today? Being a curmudgeon who wants to avoid large public gatherings, over rated restaurants, annoy people, and other consumer related habits that take over your life if you aren't careful.
Repetition and routine are most definitely the themes of 2017 and it's a good mix up from previous years. While at times, it feels like in a rut, I realize that even that in itself is a kind of blessing, but one I don't want to bask in for too long, lest I become bitter and a complete ass hole. Right now I'm just semi-bitter and a partial ass hole. We'll see how the rest of the year plays out and what it brings.
Monday, July 10, 2017
Thi Bui's memoir hit close to home on many levels for me. Books like hers hold a special place for me for some obvious reasons, but the biggest is that it's a story of immigration told through a comic book. I constantly keep an eye out for books like these and immediately pick them one when I learn about them to read them for myself. At face value, Bui shares her families story of coming to the United States from Vietnam and that alone is an amazing story. She weaves historical moments in-between her families experiences growing up, having kids, trying to raise kids, and eventually having to leave their home country. I don't wanna get into details because I don't wanna spoil it for you when you read it, but what she shares reminded me of my own experiences of growing up as an immigrant but also the complex and toxic relationship I've had with my own parents. Her use of water colors and her personal style give a kind of painful beauty to some of the emotionally intense moments in her story. It can be a lot to take in at times, but it keeps you enthralled to continue reading and learning more about Bui's life and her family.
Once I finished reading her book, it took me a few days to process everything that was drudged up in relation to my own immigrant experience and the toxic relationship I have with my parents. Like Bui, I myself have gone down that path of trying to better understand my parents as individuals, as human beings. Through age, developing emotional maturity, and piecing together their lives like a scattered jigsaw puzzle, I came to a place of understanding, both of them and for me. I've spent years trying to better understand how things happened and why they happened when I was growing up. For the longest time, I just took it as face value because they could never explain the why of whatever was going on at the time. Instead, it came from a place of you're a kid, you don't understand anything because you waste your time watching cartoons and playing video games. Least that's how it came across for me back then. Again, time and maturity have helped me process and make sense of a lot of things with no real closure. The more I analyzed my parents and what they experienced growing up, it was clear that they themselves were denied emotional support from their families, so how could they convey something they never got to their kids?
Through all this processing and understanding, I've created some peace for myself in order to continue growing as an individual. In choosing to stay away from my family, I've had to put up with societal norms that can be annoying as a mosquito bite or as painful as a burn. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a part of me that wants to talk to my parents and work everything out to a point of closure but the damage done is too deep for me to want to do that with them. Which is not to say that I don't care about them, come on, they're my parents. For all their toxicity and best intentions, I'm here doing work and thriving just like they wanted me to when they would tell me to do good in school so I wouldn't have to spend the rest of my life making a living like they did. For sure, these feelings are going to keep getting more complex as time passes and maybe I'll do something about them then, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Like Bui's parents, mine were just trying to do the best that they could.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
As I've pointed out in previous blog post, I'm at that age in which transition is all around me and while I usually don't give it a second thought, it gets overwhelming at times thanks to being hyper-connected on social media. I smile and nod till the moment passes, but recently, there cracks in holding back my existential thoughts have been getting bigger. I spend a lot of energy holding back because my attention is needed elsewhere, but alas, I find myself at another existential crossroad in which uncertainty follows me at every turn.
This current lapse in self-confidence was brought on by something I wasn't expecting that related directly to my future employment options and what I wanted out of them. It was like something out of Office Space. I like my current employment situation, mostly because I'm employed. When it's slow, I'm working two part-time jobs and when I'm busy, that usually turns into three or four. I'm able to balance everything out on a regular basis, but there are times in which everything is happening at once and I go into overdrive mode. I just came off one of those this month and it gets harder and harder each time. It makes me question if it's worthwhile to continue taking on multiple gigs at once and the work that I do. It literally feels like withdrawals at times.
It's hard for me to think about the future because I never planned on being here in the first place. And by here, I mean that in both the literal and existential kind of ways. At best, I can keep my depression at bay by keeping myself busy with work, extra projects or just doing things I enjoy. At worst, it bogs me down to the point of me not being motivated to do anything and just wallow in pity while still going through my everyday motions. My current work in communications wasn't planned because it didn't exist. I grew along side it through some major growing pains and because of the journalism skills I picked up while in community college. That lead me to the immigrant rights movement and that lead me to bicycle advocacy. The mishmash of skills I've accumulated over the years have helped me get to where I am today, but now I question if I reached my limits or am I content with how things are. In the job of life, am I just working hard enough so as to not be fired?
More than anything, I feel like I'm stuck in a rut. For all the growth I've made in these last few years, both professionally and personally, I come up short when I being to think of where I want to go next. At the same time, I feel like I'm starting to get left behind because of my hybrid set of skills. I remember when no one really took digital organizing and communications seriously. Now everyone and their mom thinks they're an expert because they know how to use social media. It just makes it harder to stand out when there's so much static noise. It also makes me question whether I should finish college, but the thought of paying for something that I hate fills me with rage and disgust.
That being said, it keeps getting harder and harder to find the motivation to do what I do where I do it. There are days in which I wouldn't wanna be anywhere else and days in which I was anywhere else, but that can't be helped. Eventually, I'll get over this hump and find motivation to continue moving forward beyond the need to work for the sake of working. It's just extremely difficult to find that motivation when you can see the puppet strings but are helpless in being able to do anything about them.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Having empathy for others has always been an issue with me for a bunch of different reasons. When I started going down this train of self-analyzing, it was because I found myself becoming numb to the news of what is essentially a constant state of fear and hyper panic by immigrants. For the last few months, all you read in the news is this person is being deported, that person is being deported, this family is being torn apart, that family is being torn apart. I'm at a point of major disconnect and I don't like it. I wasn't like that before either. It's cliche to write this, but earlier in life, I was more optimistic about life, my immigration status, and what the future could hold.
That optimism and hope were fueled by the people I was surrounding myself at the time. It kept me going through some hard times despite being an immature knucklehead who didn't deserve the kind of help and support I was getting. Of course, as I got older and I lived through shit storm after shit storm, I found maturity in spades and began being more selective about where and who I invested my time in. Nowadays though, I can't help but notice how much more isolated I've become from others and the world in general.
The obvious and easiest response to that is that I've been caught up with the multiple jobs that I hold down and other responsibilities. At the end of an average week, all I wanna do is catch up on domestic matters at home, watch some guilt-free television, and not have to worry about everything else that's going on till I have to go back to the grind the following Monday. Sometimes I stop and think if any of the work important at all in the long run of things or am I just going through the motions of life as a working adult? By the time the end of the week rolls around, I'm too exhausted to give a rats ass about anyone else's problems, truth be told.
That's the easy answer. The real answer is a lot more convoluted and harder to articulate because it's coming from so many different angles. At the end of the day though, despite the kaleidoscope of excuses I muster, I'm making an active choice to disengage from feeling empathy for others who aren't in my immediate circles and brushing off everything else in the world. I don't like that. It's turning me into a sour and bitter person that no one wants to be around in any capacity. Hence why I've isolated myself as of late.
At the same time though, I realized that in my current age and stage in life, I'm naturally being ghosted by life moving forward. So many of the people I use to hang out with in years past are getting married, having kids, and settling down in general. Yeah, I'm isolating myself but at the same time, the number of folks I can reach out to for a spontaneous activity is dwindling faster than I realized and when I did, it bummed me out. Nowadays, everything has to be scheduled in and coordinated because our time isn't our own anymore. From responsibilities are our jobs to responsibilities with their partners and families, every second of time is being pulled in multiple directions.
It's a bit surreal to come to this conclusion as I'm writing all this down, but I severely underestimated how much influence others have and have had in the development of my mental, emotional, and societal growth. Left to my own devices, I've turned into a grumpy man who waves his fist at clouds. As I start to think back to all the times when friends have helped me attain a grasp on ideas and concepts by talking to them and listening to their point of views, I realize that my initial issue with my empathy diminishing is directly tied to who I surround myself with.
This is going to take some finagling and time for me to process, but as always, mentally vomiting my thoughts into words always helps facilitate my movement forward. I went into this thinking one thing and I came out the other end realizing something else. I'll have to dig deep for this one, but I'm lucky to be able to reach out to others if need be.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Sometimes, I tell myself that I'm putting too much into nothing. That the connections I see are ones I'm making up and that things aren't they way I'm perceiving them to be. As of late, though, those connections I that I see are no longer just me thinking to myself, but the way things are being played out in the real world and it trips me the fuck out. The past is repeating itself and no one has really made that point or connection to the current context of current events dealing with immigration. I'm 32 and while I haven't been around the block as much as others, I'm also not one to forget the past to the extent of being petty about it. I even went on a twitter rant about it.
Every other day and week, I read news stories on immigration via social media. Dreamers this, immigrants that, Trump this, federal court that, ice raid this, stop posting ice raids that. I have reached my media consumption threshold and as much as I wish I could just unplug from everything, my paying work involves being on social media and monitoring what is going on for a variety of reasons. Unplugging over the weekends feels like taking a breath of fresh air after holding your breath for an extended amount of time. It's all static noise that only further numbs me from the realities people are actually facing.
The current events unfolding because of this new president is nothing new for immigrants. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to Operation Wet Back, all the rhetoric about safety, American values, jobs etc. is just trifle ass bull shit meant to justify policies, laws, and the horrid treatment of individuals. What is going on right now is just the current iteration of a flawed system designed to only prosper at the expense of others. Like in the Matrix movies.
There is a sick circle that is repeating itself and from what I can tell, the majority of people are in it and don't even know. You start with the 24-hour news cycle and the vast arrays in which information is disseminated, which is mostly through social media. Click-bait like headlines and buzzwords start to dominate the content of reputable media sources because of the need to make money. After all, the news is just another business struggling to change with the times. From presidential announcements to arrest of individuals, you are bombarded by articles from different media outlets all telling the same story in their own way by your well-intentioned friends who see what is going on, are mad, and wanna chime in with their two-cents. The tweets and facebook post are published like clockwork.
After the information is processed by individuals, they then seek out help from within their networks to get confirmation and reassurance about what they just read. Eventually, everyone turns to non-profit organizations who are fighting back, but all they find is flowery words that eventually ask them to donate, sign up to a database, become a member, or share their social media content. Facebook activism 101. You feel like you did something when all you really did was spread more misinformation and cause further panic/hysteria. You realize what you did only after the damage has been done and that's the point.
This country goes after immigrants every other administration and while progress has been made, it keeps getting worse for those that aren't able to make progress within the current systems. The many are thrown under the bus for the few. *cough *cough DACA *cough *cough. From the Mexican Repatriation act during the great depression, proposition 187 here in California in the early 90s, to the 2006 immigration bill HR4437, this shit ain't nothing new. There has and always will be an anti-immigrant sentiment in this country. There will always be people, communities, and organizations to fight against them. And that's the point. On an existential cosmic level, my personal beliefs and views of the world are validated without a doubt, but at the same time, I know I'm not the only who should be able to see the connections between the past and the present. Especially those who are physically older than me and were actually there for some of the shit that has already gone down. It's in that line of thinking that I question what is going on now in the fight for immigrants.
Other movements learn from the past and are active in not replicating past mistakes again, even though it's unavoidable at times, but non-profits and similar institutions seem to double down on replicating all the same problems over and over again. As if there is money to be made in the suffering of others and being seen as the only resource that should be trusted to lead the fight. I feel like this current moment is a nexus point in which history is overlapping itself, but there are enough variations to merit this new existence as well. After all, life moves in cycles and that's why all this feels like Déjà vu. A glitch in the Matrix.
Monday, January 30, 2017
For what seems my entire life, the Simpsons have always provided me with the context to be able to bridge and understand the complexities of real life events. To be honest, this goes beyond the Simpsons and spans almost every form of pop-culture and entertainment I have consumed in my life, even to this day. So, given how things are going and fires are being lit left and right, causing all this disarray, I got to thinking about which Simpsons episode best sums up what's going on right now. "Much Apu About Nothing" is the 23rd episode of the 7th season, back when the show was still golden. It's the one about immigration. The episode still holds up and the fact that I'm older only helps me pick up on things I missed previously, like how the episode was inspired by the fallout of Prop 187. Everything comes around in circles.
I mention this episode because I dug the analogy Lisa used when explaining the faulty logic behind the line of thinking that how believing in one thing will/won't necessarily have an effect on something else. You know, like building a wall to keep immigrants out or banning people from coming to the US from specific countries. To the same effect, everything that pendejo has done up to this point has had the same result on those who would be impacted and those in solidarity. What has been tripping me out over these last few days as I've been chewing on the fat, is that while all these different situations seem to be repeating themselves more or less, I can see everything playing out, more or less.