an ode to the ones i love.

Sometimes I feel really young when I look at the experiences I have compared to the experiences I have not been through. I might seem like I am naive by saying this but I love where I am at with my relationships currently. This is an evaluation of all my current relationships as a seventeen-year-old: 

When I am with you, 

You take me out of my fixed headspace 

That can sometimes be crippling

You talk with purpose, even if it is to yourself, it means something. 

You make me feel like Stevie Wonder when he talks about the people he loves,

unconditionally and without limitations. 

you give me relief and let me express myself without shame 

which is something that i have lacked in my past relationships

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i look at the little things like your laugh 

and the way you smile at the things that make you happy,

i look at the things that make you mad or irritated

i look at the touch from your hands and your tenderness 

it’s weird that i feel this way cause i have lost so much in the last couple of months. But, i can always control how i feel. that’s something that my mother taught me. 

To conclude: You make me happy, in a giddy, platonic way. 

don’t touch my hair…

When I was young, I had straight hair: golden, shiny, long curly hair. People would say, “Olivia, your hair is beautiful, don’t ever touch it.” In a sense, I felt quite pompous because of my hair. I knew people were attracted to it. My mother called it mermaid’s hair and I took extreme pride in the comment. I loved the attention my hair drew; it became key to my identity. Being young and blind to cultural and social cues, I flaunted my hair and reveled in the jealousy of others. 

But then I grew up. I stopped living in the trance of my innocence. I became aware of the culture of my family and I didn’t know where I fit into that.

Being African American, Filipina, and Caucasian, I was surrounded by many cultures at a young age but grew up in a town where the ethnicity was mainly white which was reflected in my appearance with my long, straight, golden hair. The blonde hair that tickled my back as I walked side to side was a label for things that I didn’t understand at five years old, and that was my heritage. My hair was not the type of hair that you would see on a little black girl.

My African American family and my Filipina grandmother would always have something to say about my hair. It was too frizzy or too straight and never right for their standards. 

As I grew older and insecurities rose, my hair became frizzier, longer, and harder to manage. During my middle school years, I was confused and grappling with a loss of identity. With no relationship with my heritage, and trying to guide myself through my pre-teen years, my hair reflected the struggles I was facing. My hair was developing, and so was I, but I didn’t know how to control it. It and I were lost, and this struggle for a sense of identity lasted years. 

Then something happened during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year where I felt a sense of need. So, I cut my hair, all of it, and I felt fantastic. A fresh, ear-length, haircut was what I needed to not only feel confident but awake. 

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My sophomore year of high school was a major awakening for me and my relationship with my ethnic identity. I understood the history of blacks in America as I began to read poems from Maya Angelou and read about corrupt African American communities in the works of Toni Morrison. I explored music relating to the struggles of black men and women, and began to experience my culture. I also felt a need to connect to my Filipina heritage as well. I began to cook more of my grandmother’s traditional Filipino recipes and shared them with my friends and family that didn’t understand my culture. 

My hair reflected the feelings that I was developing for my culture. It was curly, big, darker in color, and felt like me. I finally accomplished the sense of identity that I had been searching for in my young teenage years. I wasn’t just a girl, living in caucasian town with frizzy uncontrolled hair. I was a woman, who knew what she wanted and who she was who just so happened to have big curly locks on her head. 

Now, I love my hair just like I loved it when I was a little girl. I am able to bounce my curls all day without feeling the judgment of my family. I don’t care about what people have to say about my looks and how I am not enough in terms of my heritage.

the playlist of my life…this far

Sometimes, I find myself being guided through life through the wisdom of songs. From songs that don’t have lyrics to songs that only have lyrics, melodies will always lay a path for me to follow. Being 17, I have a lengthy list of songs that have shaped me. 

As by Steve Wonder has taught me how to love the people through all four seasons, through thick and thin, through the mysteries of tomorrow. I learned how to love, always. 

Man in the Mirror, MJ; This song was, in my memory, the first song that highlighted the less fortunate. At a young age, I realized how blessed I was to have a roof over my head and a full plate of food 3 times a day. 

All for You, homegirl, Janet; The “I just wanna have a fun” song of the 2000s. 

Superwoman by Alicia Keys. I am SUPERWOMAN, yes I am and yes she is! Alicia, thank you for teaching me that being a woman is super! I have never been more proud!

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Fade Into You, Mazzy Star; The song that sends me into a mindset of creativity, and lets me let go of the worries from the day like fading into a different dimension of my mind. 

Cobrastyle by Teddybears takes me to Venice, California, windows down, with my father behind the wheel and my brother in the passenger seat. 

Me, Myself and I by Beyonce makes me believe in the power of me. I do not need a man to support myself, fuel myself, provide for myself, or feel good about myself.

This is just a mere look into my childhood but each of these songs are inspiring and evoke vivid images of happiness. From my mother dancing in the living room to my dad telling my brother about his latest music find, my family has inspired my preference in music and I am proud.

minty

By the river with the low hanging cypress trees and the strong rapids, down by the field, she was sleeping, 

envisioning God,

envisioning freedom, 

envisioning life. 

But reality woke her from what she knew to be a dream, and not her future. 

she was neglected, hurt, defined by the scar on her forehead. 

she was abused for the color of her skin

she was owned.

she was cheated by the world, just like each of her brothers and her sisters.

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she was alone. 

she waited for an answer, an answer that could only come from liberty or from death. 

so minty ran. 

minty ran far,

one-hundred miles far following the North Star that shown bright in the sky.

when she was lost, He guided her to the river that took her home, 

the river that took her away from the heat of hatred and grimness

the river that washed over her face, cleaning her from the dirt of her “masters.”

in thirty-days time, she felt 

the warmth of acceptance, 

the warmth of respect. 

she stand there,

with the right of her freedom in her grasp,

the sun reflected in her tear-filled eyes. 

Minty felt the freedom embrace her,

she felt her brothers and sisters around her,

she felt the comfort of a home.

a diary from the valley part 1

the various moments i experienced in the valley:

  1. A seven hour car ride where i skipped about 80% of my music library.
  2. The smell of fresh pine everywhere I went.
  3. The smell of smoke embedded in my hair for the entirety of the trip.
  4. Freedom.
  5. Shock when looking at the sheer face of El Capitan.
  6. Pain as I slowly walked up the seven million switch backs to the top of Vernal Falls.
  7. Astonishment as I looked down at the waterfall.
  8. A freezing cold lake.
  9. Burning thighs, calves, and feet.
  10. Being really cold.
  11. Feeling incredibly lucky as I am able to be in a place that is so treasured.
  12. Eating too many PB and J sandwiches.
  13. The strong urge to see a little bear.
  14. Moments where I did not feel anything, no stress, jealousy, anxiety. And it felt really good.
  15. Seeing the valley in a new light. Literally and Figuratively.
  16. The mist blowing against my face as I looked at the waterfall above me.
  17. A seven hour car ride back where I realized that I really enjoy a good podcast.
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comfort food

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

From the smell of fresh baked goods always circulating the house to the comfort of a warm bed, the idea of home sparks warmth and happiness, and I have been so lucky to consider my home in that way.

The white door that creeks and the roof that leaks is where I find home currently, but I have a vision of where I want to be or see myself once I have finished growing up.  

Being a mix of all cultures, the Philippines in itself represents me. Living in a higaonon hut on one of the several islands, I would devour salty chicken adobo and lumpia.

Settling into my home, I would write in my journal about the culture that I experienced that day while looking out from my hut into the orange sunset reflecting off the ocean. 

With beams of warm colors bouncing off the water, I would feel my late grandmother and her mother, wrapping their arms around me with their soft, delicate arms. Eventually, I will feel a sense of comfort and understanding of my surrounding culture.

Living the simple life and knowing my roots, I would sense closure and be able to flee to my new home in San Fransisco, California. 

Even though I was not born there, my roots are in California and more specifically, San Francisco. Like my little Filipino grandmother, I would come from the Philippines and go to the Golden City.

My fate would bring me to the perfect two bedrooms and bathroom apartment on the seventh floor having an auburn red door. Decorated with poems written by my father, my apartment would have the smell of essential oils embedded into the walls, specifically lavender representing my mother’s spirituality.

This would be my sanctuary where tears would be shed, laughs would explode, and love would be felt. 

The Mission district, where my brother was born, would give light to the art forward theme that I created in all the rooms but made sure that every area had its own distinctive flair.

Wanting to explore more about my culture and ancestors, I would travel to the plains of Africa. Settling down in Nairobi, Kenya, where the lifestyle is filled with the history of the Bantu people and the Swahili language, my home would be in a Kikuyu house with no rooms.

Compared to my other homes, I would be connected with the earth where elephants and antelopes have carried their children on their migratory voyage.

This home would give me insight to my African heritage before Europeans came into their territory, before slavery, and before segregation. Instead of learning about the hardships of my culture, I will learn about the rich tradition that the country brings. 

I have always been a homebody. I find extreme comfort with the idea of my home and enjoy its atmosphere. I am excited to see where my future home may be.

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for her.

As I have grown older, I have danced around with my faith in God. My extended family is very Catholic. Like, so Catholic that my great grandparents had fifteen children. 

Both my mother and father grew up in the church. With families that wholeheartedly believe in God and Catholic values, there was little room to be different and your own person with different values and morals. My parents saw flaws in this system and didn’t raise my brother and me in the church. 

Now, as my relationship with God is pretty non-existent, I wonder about the strength in religion and the power of spirituality. Around the world, there are all these varying forms of praying to a higher power(s) in order to feel something like happiness, clarity, or reassurance. 

My aunt is currently sick.  And I am waiting for a miracle. 

My family has urged people to pray to keep her alive and healthy. But, is that legit and enough?

We have been praying for months. 

We have been watching the sickness take over her. 

We have watched the weight drop off her like the tears that run off our faces when thinking about her future.

We are putting our hopes and prayers on one person and what is He doing to save her? 

But, I pull myself back from this cycle of negativity and think about her, just her. I think about her needs, what she wants right now. 

She lived and lives a beautiful life. 

She is surrounded by people who love her and will be for eternity. 

She has made hundreds of people smile. 

My sentiments on prayer and putting all your hopes on one figure can be pushed out the window. For now, I will pray because I know that is what she believes in.

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