Thankfulness for God, Church, and Family

If you know me or have read my posts, I tend to over-analyze and try to explain every detail or concept in my writing. I’ve realized that I tend to hover over topics such as beauty, love, mental illness, depression, and compassion, but rarely delve into a personal outpouring of it here. Even as I write right now, I have to fight the urge to overshadow the emotion and heart with analysis to defend my reasons and thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that analyzing and philosophizing about these things is important, but there are times for the restless mind to take a break and surrender to allow something else to lead it into quiet waters.  This post will be those times of surrender as I express what I’m thankful for.

 

God:

Thank God for this life that given me through the cross. For every good and perfect gift that I have been blessed to have. Thank you for the good and bad times. For the times where you gave and took away. Everything I have is from you; all my thanks that I give points back to you.

Church:

I cannot express how blessed I am to have church in my life. No church is perfect and believe me, I’ve had my share of ups and downs with it, but there’s no doubt that without this church, I would be in a very dark place. The amount of love, care, support, and guidance I’ve received throughout the years is beyond what my words can say. Thank you for every individual that I’ve crossed paths with not only in East Valley, but also in other church, schools, or random encounters.

Family:

Oh man, this one’s difficult, not because there’s nothing to be thankful for; rather it’s difficult because it reveals how unthankful and selfish I am towards them.

This month, I’ve been learning to stop focusing on the things I don’t have, but rather focus on the things that I already have, and what I have is a family that loves me- loves me so very much. I feel uneasy writing my thanks for my family on this blog at a crowded Starbucks. For one, I need to say these words to my family, not on a blog. For two, I don’t want to be holding back my tears at a public place as I write and reflect on how thankful I am and should be for my family so I’ll end it here.

 

 

Morning Woes and Romance De Amor

I woke up late this morning for work. Now I have an hour to waste at home.

“Gan ni chi ba”, is heard in the living room as my mom continues to yammer on about our house. I’m not too sure what “chi ba” means or if I’m even hearing it correctly, but what I do know is “Gan ni” is fuck you in Chinese. This phrase is about 90% of what I hear come out of my dad’s mouth to my mom.  You’d think I’d know what “chi ba” or “chi da” or whatever, means by now but I don’t.

I pick up my guitar while on my bed to drown out the immediate boredom, frustration, and laziness I get when waking up to this noise. I pick out the strings for Romance de’ Amor while the chorus of the morning plays in the background. Dogs barking, birds chirping, crickets cricketing, and parents parenting.  I play the song imperfectly two more times, meditating on the notes and beauty of the song before finally getting out of bed to get ready for work. I wash my face, brush my teeth and comb out half of my bed hair and cover the rest with my beanie. In the living room, my dad, head full of white hair, continues to lay in bed while my mom looks curiously outside the window with a million more words to say.

Romance of love was what was played in the morning by guitar strings and this is what is expected for my heart strings to play throughout the morning, afternoon and night time. We are called to love and be loved in the midst of chaos and unrest that surrounds us.

Oh, how this feels opposed to every fleshly fiber of my body

when sleep becomes the king and escape is his decree

What a lovely king he seems to be to offer a soft bed

During times of war, famine, and things that are said

But when the time comes and the war is over

We will realize that this bed is rather

an infirmary for fallen

soldiers of men

Made by a Prince in disguise

To entice

us in our evil desires, sin, and deeds

and when these sins are fully conceived

We lie dead

on our soft infirmary bed

But I hear a roar in the distance

Awake from your slumber and cease your resistance

For I have made you strong in your weakness

I have healed and freed you from your sickness,

So get up, pick up your bed and go!

For you will reap what you sow

No longer are you paralyzed by your flesh

For in Me you will find rest.

This rest that comes from the author of love. This “Romance de Amor” is what he played for us throughout his life and death. It is what’s placed in us through the Word and this is how and why we are to love despite what surrounds us. Beauty that emanates from His song reminds me of the many things to be thankful for. At this moment I only see a glimmer of it, and many times it’s mixed with sour notes and untuned strings of my own heart, yet I see the immense beauty that could be if I just spent more time in it.

Bus Ride Home

I’m writing this while listening to Stan by Eminem on a bus ride home. It’s quite therapeutic to be on a bus where I don’t have to worry about traffic or driving, especially after work. It’s bright, warm, and surprisingly comfortable. There’s a slight drizzle outside. Fits well with the song. Adds to the ambiance. I look up from my phone and see an elderly lady in the front with a colorful striped beanie and a lime green jacket. What’s her story? Where is she going? Does she do this every day? Will I see her tomorrow?

I look around. There’s  a guy with headphones waiting to get off the bus. Another middle age girl walks in and sits behind me. I hear her talking in Spanish through my ear buds.
I wonder if she sees me typing about her… I shift my body to the left, lower my phone, and take my left ear bud out. She’s talking quite rapidly in Spanish with pauses here and there. I’m still worried that she’s reading this. She seems angry…

 

 

 

I leave this blank space so she won’t be able to read what’s above. I put the music back to my left ear. Piano, voices, drums, and pencil scribbles replace the bus noise.

Almost my stop. The elderly lady with the colorful hoodie gets up. Same with a balding guy with a skateboard. Soon I’ll be like them; traveling through the cold dark air. Hopefully back to a home with people to talk to instead of isolated strangers on a bus. One can only hope.

I walk now. I see four to five people in the distance. I remove the guitar solo from my right ear just in case they say something. As they get closer I realize it’s only two people. Two Asians, one holding the other one by the arm, guiding him through the sidewalk. They’re both pretty young… brothers maybe? The one being guided has pajamas on with a bowl-ish haircut, and clear rim glasses. Some things off with the way he walks, but I can’t figure it out.  I smile and say a muffled “hello” as I walk passed them. I think they do the same.

I’m home now. I wonder if people would read this. How dull is a post about a bus ride, especially a bus ride where nothing happens? I guess this depends on the perspective we choose to take.

For me, this bus ride was filled with something enlightening and beautiful that compelled me to write this. This 30-minute ride took me on a journey away from idolizing after fast cars or billboards advertising strip clubs and fast food. It placed me inside an illuminated rectangle box that moved through the darkness of night. Strangers in every corner.  Eye contact never made. Yet something about this environment sparked a curiosity within me for my fellow bus riders that I couldn’t quite figure out until now.

My mom comes in dressed in a contraption of yarn, string and old clothes. It’s a complete mess! She asks me a hundred illogical questions that I half-listen to. I respond with a “yes”, but she continues talking. I lose my temper.

The epiphany is this: We are all lost strangers in this cold dark world searching for someone to hear and record our stories. The bus ride illuminated the souls of these strangers that would have otherwise been hidden in the darkness… My mom comes back in my room, still dressed in an apron of yarn. She reminds me of the two Asians I saw while walking home. One guiding the other by the arm across the artificially bright night. It’s somewhat sad, yet beautiful at the same time.

Oh, how great is this longing and how very few are willing to satisfy it, let alone give notice to it! And how deprived am I that I cannot give the very thing that I write and long for…

But how fortunate are we to have a guide, an example, a teacher, a savior that is driving this bus of life. Life doesn’t end at our stop, it keeps going. Every day, every hour, every place we end up going. It illuminates us with real light that shines not from artificial lamp posts, but from the source Himself. We must take hold of this light because so many people need it.

It’s been two hours since I was on that bus. I’m at home now. This building is illuminated by two lamps. In it, there are three strangers.

 

 

 

Good Morning Family

I wake up to an ever so common theme of birds chirping and my mom rustling through the house. Sometimes I awake the typical Fuck You’s that are constantly repeated until the rustling stops or he gets tired of yelling. Most of the time it’s the second one and today is one of those days. As I begrudgingly get up from my unkept bed, my mom greets me as she enters my door-handleless door, opens my window, and tosses some wadded up toilet paper outside.

I head to my straight to computer without putting a shirt on or brushing my teeth and scroll mindlessly through my email and facebook, hoping for something different. Nothing. Same old junk mail and bullshit. “Hmm.. maybe I’ll write a post today”, I say to myself as I try to drown out my mother’s questions. “Anything to escape from the incessant antics of my family.” So I open up WordPress and here I am! Writing away my mornings.

For me, mornings signifies the beginning of an old day with the folks. Same old habits, frustrations, and detachments that I’m so accustomed to. If it wasn’t for the times I leave my house for work or when I go out with friends or by myself,  I would live my life in a perpetual pattern of “home stuff”. The depressing thing is that this is how my mom and dad live. Same old stuff every day.  Week after week,  month after month, year after year. Hmm… I just realized that it was my dad’s birthday 6 days ago. It’s hard to remember these things when every day, whether it’s birthdays, holidays or labor day, all seem the same.

If it wasn’t for the times I leave my house with my parents, they would live a life in a perpetual pattern of “home stuff”. Oh, the irony. The people I’m trying to escape from are the very people that rely on me for their escape.

I’ve written a lot about escapes and I realize that this is not my portion in life. I can choose to live in a blissful ignorance of my surroundings, or live in the reality where suffering and joy can ensue. For me, life is a long and arduous fight between these two options. It’s the red or blue pill, the “two roads diverged in a yellow wood”, “Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied” and the narrow or wide road. This IS what makes all the difference in life!

There’s so much brilliance and wisdom that have come from the pens, mouths, and movie screens of people throughout the entirety of human history. In a world where many of us are herded like sheep to the slaughter, very few people decide to go against the flow of comfort and the crowd. These few are the ones that get embroidered in our history books and hearts. People like MLK, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Neo, and Jesus.

It’s 12:19 PM. The time of mourning is over. Maybe I’ll grab lunch with my mom or clean the house that my dad’s been telling me to do.

 

 

 

Family

This is a candid post about my family and I. I never really know how to start a post like this. I guess i’ll start with a list

  1. I have a mom and a dad
  2. Dad doesn’t talk to mom. He only yells at her
  3. My dad had a stroke so his language and understanding is very off
  4. Mom talks all the time. Mostly to me, sometimes my dad, and sometimes to no one in particular.
  5. My mom has bipolar disorder so she talks a lot. Her language and understanding is very off, but in a different way.
  6. I’ve never had a reasonable conversations with my parents.
  7. I relay their messages to each other even though they’re in the same house.
  8. Oh I also have a brother that I haven’t seen in… is it 10 years? 15? I actually don’t know.
  9. My brother stopped talking to my mom and dad. I haven’t talked to him in 2, 3 years? I lost track
  10. I’ve never seen my parents kiss or show affection to each other. They sleep in different rooms.
  11. My dad is very depressed. All he does is sleep, sit, and watch tv.
  12. My mom is depressed. Don’t get me started on what my mom does…
  13. It’s been like this for 25 years

List are good but it lacks a story. Stories are difficult… maybe i’ll save that for a later post

I write this post, yes to vent, and honestly with some bitterness, resentment, sadness, and anger. I’m only human. But my family has made me who I am today and I am thankful for it. I’m thankful for them. They indirectly taught me patience, compassion, love, duty, and respect, through their lack of it for each other. They constantly challenge me and put me through the fire. Every second at home is a fight for sanity and peace within the chaos. For those that know me, yet do not know these details, this IS my life. This IS my personality, my humor, my mannerisms, and the essence of who I am. This doesn’t change who I am because it is who I am.

I sit here and write all this in a Mcdonald’s at 11:25 PM. I should be home so my parents don’t worry about me… But I’m here for a reason. McDonald’s is the last place someone wants to be at 11:28 at night… It’s fucking depressing here. But I’d rather be here than home. The only thing that draws me back home is the worry and loneliness that my parents constantly feel when I’m out so late. Plus that’s where my bed is. I need sleep 🙂

Dad.

I close my eyes as I type this. I try to reminisce about the moments I have with my dad. I try to find some emotion in the life we had together. I try really hard this time because I don’t want to feel empty again in a crowded boba shop. I remember once we both laughed at a scene from a television show that I have no memory of. I remember him taking me to the arcade and giving me $5 to play Tekken and Soulcalibur.  He would wander the arcade or maybe sit down or nap. I really don’t know. I remember taking him to the mall on an unbearably hot summer day for him to cool off. I bought him a $5 coffee and some water and then wandered the mall without him. I had no desire to go to the arcade like I did as a kid. All I could do now is walk and think.

I remember that he cooks for me and drives me to school even when I was in college. He yelled at me for getting a F in Algebra. He gave me money for food. Now I give him money.

He hugged me once when I said I was depressed. He yelled at me once when I said I was depressed. I hugged him once in a medical hospital when the physical therapist told me to. He hugged my mom once after he saw her at the psychiatric hospital. He yells at my mom when she’s at home. Those are the only hugs I remember, but not the only yells I remember.

Now my dad is depressed. I scoff at his lack of understanding of who or what I am. I want to yell at him for his lack of compassion, lack of empathy, lack of philosophy and reason. But I want to hug him to ease his sadness. I want to give him $5 to play some video game so he can forget about reality and so I can wander around, think, and maybe take a nap. I want to have deep talks with him about the memories he has in his life. Hopefully they’re more than the memories I have of him.

Mom.

I close my eyes as I type this. I try to reminisce about the moments I have with my mom. I try to find some emotion in the life we had together. Are there times that I laughed with her at a joke or had a meaningful conversation with her? Is there a day where I grew from her maturity and poise? Rather many of it has been an endurance with her. Putting up with her antics and hour-long spiels about disjointed thought of people she knows and doesn’t know. It’s hard to love my mom. I’ve reduced her to a common annoyance in my life. Something that I come home to and try to drown out from my mind.

This contributes to my psychology. My habits, speech, movements, lifestyle, vices and virtues.  When this mixture of duty, of compassion,empathy and the painful feeling of seeing my family depressed and longing for company is mixed with a feeling of hopelessness, annoyance, frustration, confusion, and a lack of resources to communicate my words to them, I’m left with myself, my thoughts, and my wordpress.

Here’s a short list of who my mom is. It is nowhere near enough to fully describe who she is. Only a scratch in the surface, not even adequate to leave a mark in your mind.

  1. She has Bipolar II disorder. For my mom it includes all of these listed in WebMD. Again this is not sufficient to fully explain her and her disorder.
    1. Feeling abnormally self-confident or social
    2. Needing less sleep or more energetic
    3. Unusually talkative or hyper
    4. Irritable or quick to anger
    5. Thinking faster than usual
    6. More easily distracted/having trouble concentrating
    7. More goal-directed or productive at work, school or home
    8. More involved in pleasurable activities, such as spending
  2. Here’s a short list of the things she does.
    1. She comes into my room and takes clothes and moves it into suitcases and her room. She also adds clothes of mine that I don’t wear or have tried to throw away back into my room.
    2. She does not throw anything away and she won’t let me throw anything away. I have a trashcan in my room that she constantly goes through and takes.
    3. She leaves orange peels inside my room (probably for what she believes as medical reasons)
    4. She constantly chastises television shows and personalities for talking about violence or bad news. She talks to them on the television
    5. She doesn’t want me to cut trees or clean the yard. When I do and put the leaves and stuff in the trashcan, she dumps it out back into the yard.
    6. She’s extremely hard-headed and opinionated. Once she believes something, no amount of reason, logic, or discussion is going to change her mind.

I don’t write this to complain or show my mom in a negative light. Underneath the things she does, she’s a very loving and caring person. She always buys me food and cooks for me (even though it’s sometimes inedible), even when I don’t ask for it. She unconditionally loves her family despite how we treat her. She’s curious, light hearted, kind, friendly, peaceful and lovely…. But many times it gets overshadowed.
As I’m writing this blog, my mom is in my room talking a mile a minute in Chinese about random things that I don’t quite understand. She’s half talking to me, half talking to herself. I’m trying to drown her out with my non-noise canceling headphones. It’s successful in muffling her speech, but I doesn’t remove the fact that she’s longing for someone to listen to her hour long, abnormally self-confident, talks about her life and people. This is combined with the yells of my father for her to shut up and his constant “FUCK YOU’S” in chinese break my heart and my concentration for the millionth time.