“Where are you From?”

He broke my heart in pieces over and over and over again.

It was a few days after my 12th birthday. My mom told me we were going to Buca di Beppo’s in Thousand Oaks for dinner with my family to celebrate. Birthdays dinners have always been something we always, ALWAYS had for one another. Every time someone in my family had a birthday, we all would meet up somewhere and celebrate over dinner. Therefore, I was not surprised we were having one for me. We took birthday dinners pretty seriously, because we rarely got to see each other. Birthdays were just an excuse to come together.

After school, I went home, took a shower, and my mom insisted on me letting her straighten my hair, which didn’t seem out of the norm because she always loved how my hair looked straight. She said everything looks cleaner when my hair is straight. When we got to Buca di Beppo’s, the host led me all the way to the back where I saw all my family, my closest friend, and all his family. I was shocked, but had a huge smile on my face. There were way more people than I expected and they were sitting at a massive table with every appetizer on the menu right in front of them. “SURPRISE,” everyone yelled. I was ecstatic; I had finally gotten the surprise party I’ve always wanted.

I was so happy, but I knew something was missing. It took me a while to realize what, or who, it was. My dad, mom, sister, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, cousins, my best friend, and his whole family were there what could it be? Then it hit me “Mom, where is Blake,” I asked, my voice cracking. Blake is my brother, at that time he was 25, and I knew was he wasn’t there. Showing up to family dinners is so important, because the time we have together is rare. So, not being there is practically a sin in my family. “I don’t know. No one knows. Sorry, Ki,” my mom said. My 12-year-old self felt so betrayed. “No one can get a hold of him,” my dad said. “He might be living on the streets, we don’t know. But, don’t worry, he’ll come back eventually.” How could I not worry? How could everyone but Blake be there? How could someone be SO selfish? At the time, Blake was in and out of rehab because he was addicted to heroine. He often lied and stole things from me and my sister. Which, at the time of the surprise party, I knew, but very vaguely. Years later, of course, I knew a lot more.

It’s as simple as that. He broke my heart in pieces over and over and over again. He smashed mine and my whole family’s. Not only did he break our hearts, he also ruined our trust. The truth of the matter, though, is he would do it again. What’s even sadder is I don’t blame him. He did it because he wanted to escape the world. That’s what drugs do; they help one escape. He wanted to run away from two families who could never meld beautifully, two families forced together with the same last name, but personalities that begged to differ. What I mean is, I don’t blame him for wanting to get out; he’d be crazy if he didn’t, but I blame him for being so incredibly selfish. Truth of the matter is, he isn’t the only guy who’s broken my heart, nor is he the first to do so.

That’s a different story for a different time ,though. In case, you were wondering, Blake is better now. At least he says he is.

 

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Man’s Best Friend

My life started with Jeannie. She was a yellow lab and she was the sweetest thing. She’d let me sleep in her bed; dress her up; and race her through our garden, without ever questioning me. I was the tiny human she was protecting.

I don’t know how often I’ve heard the story of me sleeping in my crib in the garden when I was a baby and a delivery guy walked in, apparently too close in Jeannie’s opinion. She got protective over me and bit him in the butt, chasing him straight out the door. What a good girl.

Two weeks before her seventeenth birthday, she had a stroke. I remember that morning so clearly. It was a Saturday, blue skies already so early in the morning, which is rare. I saw Jeannie lying outside in our garden, my parents sitting in the grass next to her. They looked so sad, so upset. They told me she had a stroke, but eight year old me didn’t know what that meant. I told her it was all okay, that she’d get better. I promised her. But, my dad had already called the vet to put her down.

Later that day, we went to my grandparents’ house to burry her next to Lea, another yellow lab who had died years earlier. I remember the last time I saw her, my dad told us to say goodbye. She looked so tired and ready to go to dog heaven.

My parents said they wouldn’t want to get another dog for another five years, but  a few months later, we got Pepper.

When we visited Pepper and his brothers for the first time, I’d never seen a dog get so competitive over food. He was just a little, black dumpling with fur, so clumsy and already so, so sweet.

I can’t believe it’s been seven years since we got him. We taught him everything you would expect children to teach a dog: we taught him to jump, hop on tree trunks, roll over, play dead, balance food on his nose, shake, sit on chais, and probably so much more that I just can’t think of.

Photo Credit: encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com

One thing you must know about Pepper, that I’ve just mentioned, is that he would do anything for food. But, also, that he would eat anything in this world. When he was four months old, he ate my sock straight from my foot. A year later, he ate my toy horse, some tape, and another sock. He ate an entire mango, including the pit, and a whole loaf of bread, making him so sick that we had to bring him to the vet. One time, he wanted to eat the raspberries in our garden, but,, instead swallowed an entire branch of the bush, which obviously got stuck in his throat and had to be surgically removed. He still has a scar from it, that idiot.

When I left to go to boarding school, the thing I missed the most was him. I begged and begged my parents to bring him with us to California and they did. Right now, he’s 10,000 kilometers away from home. He loves the beach, the American food, the attention he gets for his shiny coat, and his smile. What a dog.

I don’t know how many more dogs I will have throughout my life, but I sure hope it’s a lot. I can’t imagine myself without a dog and I hope I’ll never have to. They certainly deserve to be called man’s best friend.

the things we don’t talk about- holiday edition

The holiday season is coming up, which means a lot of happiness and posts about “holiday spirit” which is great, but this is about the things we don’t talk about.

We don’t talk about the peoples whose families don’t have enough money for Christmas presents, halloween decorations, or a turkey dinner.

We don’t talk about the kids whose families are split into two or more homes, forced painfully back together for the holidays, nor do we talk about the kids whose families are split and don’t see each other at all.

We don’t talk about the families who yearn for someone who is no longer with them or who yearn for someone who never has been with them.

We don’t talk about a lot of things, especially around the holiday season, because we want to distract ourselves with presents and lights and candy.

Which, don’t get me wrong, is fun, but this is for the people who’s holidays aren’t the most wonderful time of the year. You’re not alone.

This is what the holiday season looks like to me, starting in October.

Halloween: Not very exciting and kind of awkward, as I’m old enough to not go trick-or-treating, but I still could go if I wanted to. It’s sad, because you realize it’s not as exciting as it was when you were a little kid.

Thanksgiving- Me, my mom, and step-dad sit at a fancy restaurant in Las Vegas, eating the turkey dinner on the menu. I wish I was home, with the rest of my family, like how it used to be. When grandma could still cook for us all and we could still all be ok sitting at one table. I’m definitely not as thankful as I should be on this day.

Photo credit: Nycinsiderguide.com 

Christmas- Awkward because my dad and step-dad are both at my house and it’s “rude” to pay more attention to one than the other. Normally, I do it anyway. Even more awkward because my two sisters are in the same house and they hate each other. Probably worse because my brother comes. Sucks because I’m the youngest and the people I want to pay attention to me don’t and the people I don’t want to pay attention to me pay too much.

New years Eve/ New Years day- Depressing, unless you’ve been invited to a party. Full of a lot of stupid phrases like “New year, new me” or “On the first page of a 365 page book.” Reality is, nothing ever changes.

Valentine’s Day- Cool if you’re dating someone; super lame if you’re not.

April Fool’s Day- Usually not funny. I probably end up forgetting what day it is and get pranked.

Mother’s Day- Celebrating mamas, trying really hard to make everything special, usually involves waking up earlier than my mom. Probably impossible, because I don’t think my mom ever sleeps. Normally ends up with a fight I feel terribly about.

Father’s Day- Another Mother’s Day, celebrating mom for being my mother and father. Forced to wish my step-dad a “Happy Fathers day! <3.” Normally, I don’t really mean it. I wish my sister’s dad a Happy Father’s day… I mean it.

Independence Day (AKA 4th of July)- Nothing super exciting. Missing the time I used to watch the fireworks on a big hill with my sister’s dad. Probably with my friends watching fireworks, but kinda scary because I don’t like the noise fireworks make.

REPEAT.

The point of this blog wasn’t for me to bag on the holidays. There is super fun stuff going on during the holidays and I appreciate and enjoy every single one (for the most part) for a different reason… I’m sure you hear a million things a year about why every holiday is great. This is about the things we DON’T talk about.

The point of this blog is to say: the holidays are coming up and with as much love and gratitude this brings, it can also be a rough time for some.

With that said, take care of yourself; be gentle with other people; be thankful for what you do have; focus less on what you don’t, but don’t ignore it; check up on your friends; and talk to someone if your Christmas was shitty! Some are better than others.

biracial

Until this past summer, I have always self-identified as fully white. If someone asked me what my ethnicity was, I would automatically say white. Sometimes, when people would try to pry, further questioning my response, I would almost yell,”I’M WHITE. I’M JUST TAN.”

This past summer I have come to terms with myself in a lot of more ways than one. A huge step for me was that, I have begun self-identifying as half-black and half-white.

I think there were two main reasons I did not associate myself with being African-American.

No, it is not because I’m embarrassed or ANYTHING along those lines.

The first being: the classic dead-beat dad story.  Up until very recently, I have given myself the power to not have to identify as the daughter of a black man who does not identify as a father.

The second reason being, well, racism, discrimination, and oppression, are all still alive and well.

On Father’s Day of last year, I posted something similar to this on a small instagram account I have only for close friends. Someone told me that “no one really cares” and “I don’t see why that’s a big deal.”

It’s a huge deal. Once you’re fifteen years into your life and you finally feel comfortable enough to accept and express the half of your identity that’s made you feel empty for years, it’s a huge deal.

Yes, I am half-black; yes, I am identify with the 17.9 other African-Americans in the U.S; yes, my dad is black; yes, that’s my real mom; and, yes, I’m proud.

 

Photo credit: Theodysseyonline.com

 

Raspberries

The taste of raspberries reminds me of your garden. I haven’t been there in a long time, but the memories are just as clear as they’ve been five or ten years ago. Clear, but now with a blue undertone that makes me feel a little sick.

Why couldn’t you have been normal grandparents? Why are all our memories limited to those imposed walks through your garden and those dinners where you would clearly so much rather have sat at home watching the news or reading the same books over and over again? Why couldn’t you come visit us sometimes? Why could’t you teach us how to

Photo Credit: i.pinimg.com

bake or play chess or make paper planes? Why couldn’t you remember my birthday?

I know that I have no idea what it is like to be you guys, what it is like to live a difficult life and grow as old as you are now. But, your life isn’t difficult anymore, you have it so easy. So, why couldn’t you make it easy for us? Why couldn’t you make it easy for Mama; why do you have to be so loveless? Why did you have to kick us out of our house when I was two? Why did you have to tell me I was fat when I was thirteen? Why do you always have to tell me how horrible my mother is when she is actually the opposite of all that is wrong with you?

You don’t want us living in California; you want us back home, so you can see us every few months and be able to say how proud you are of how great your grandchildren turned out. But, you have no right to take credit. I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel and that’s how you made me feel.

I know I am so lucky with the life I have, but I am mad. I am mad and that’s your fault. You are the reason I get mad when I taste raspberries, you are the reason I never got to have grandparents.

Dear Dad,

It’s been seven years since you’ve passed and it still doesn’t feel real.

Photo Credit: Camp Geneva

This past year has been one of the hardest years without you.  I had my first love and first heartbreak.

The only person I wanted after that heartbreak was you, but you weren’t here.  I needed you to be here, I needed your advice, I had no clue what to do.

I have no father figure to lead me and I am just starting to become a woman, I need your advice.

In just under two months, I am going to be 18 and you won’t be there.

You won’t be there for anything. We won’t have a father-daughter dance, you won’t walk me down the aisle, you won’t watch me graduate, and you won’t watch me grow up.  I will never know if you are proud of who I am becoming.

I know I shouldn’t be mad at you, but it gets hard sometimes.

I know it wasn’t your fault.

It was fated.

I need to let fate take over now.  You must have left me for a reason.

I am stronger than I could have ever imagined me to be by this age. I know how to fend for myself.  I know I can make it through anything now. I know you would be proud of who I am becoming and that is all that matters.

I miss you, but I know I can make it through.

The First Time I Saw My Father Cry

Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders

Photo Credit: tearsforfears.com

My dad always seemed to find a way to stay strong. During hard times, he remains tough and tells me it’s going to be okay. The day he found out he had a blocked artery and needed heart surgery, the day my grandfather died,  the day my mom got hurt and had to go to the hospital, and the day his favorite pet died, he never cried. It’s not that it wasn’t hard for him, it all was. The reason he didn’t cry was because he always wanted me to know that it was okay, that it was all going to be okay. He stays strong because he hopes that no matter how bad the situation, we will find a way out of it. My dad doesn’t cry because he wants me to think that everything is going to be okay.

The outline of all my ribs were visible, even through the tank top I wore. My hip bones stuck out and created a visible lines in the XS leggings I wore which were still too big. You could see my spine through my shirt and my tail bones were visible too. There were bruises on my back from laying down, my bones would cause purple and blue marks to form on the skin covering them. My jaw had become sharp and it looked as if my cheeks went inward. My collarbones practically popped out of my skin and my sternum was defined and visible. If I lifted up my shirt,  my deteriorating heart beating slowly through my chest was easily seen.

About a month before the day listed above was the day when I had officially been diagnosed. We had known something was up for a while. The cutting out of food groups; skipping meals; weighing myself at least twice a day; crying before, during, and after eating; the fact that all my clothes now fit loosely; my low energy level; and much more made my parents suspect something wasn’t right. But, today, a professional had given the thing controlling their daughter an official name: anorexia nervosa . That same day, the result from my EKG came in, my heart rate was dangerously low and we were called in the doctor’s office immediately. As soon as I walked in, she put a device on my finger that revealed my heart rate: 38 beats per minute. Due to all the weight I had lost, and the fact that I had been depriving myself of the calories I needed, my body started to break down the muscles in my vital organs in order to  receive the energy needed to survive day-to-day life.

My heart was the main victim of this.  The doctor told me that I needed to stop water polo and all exercise until my heart rate was normal. Water polo was what made me happy: it was my identity, my passion, my motivation to get better, and my dad knew this. I had never cried so hard in my life. After five minutes of me in tears, my mom broke down too, but my dad stayed strong and comforted the both of us. She then told my parents about the hospitalization programs she recommended for me. I cried on the drive home and for hours when we were home, I cried and cried and cried. As I lay alone in bed that night, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t sleep. My plan was to go to wake up my dad and ask him to be with me, I felt bad about waking him up, but I didn’t know what I would do without him right now. I knew if I woke up my mom, she would start to sob too. It was hard enough dealing with the pain I brought upon myself, I couldn’t manage to see the pain I inflicted on her. I wanted, no, I needed him to tell me that I was strong, tell me that I could get through this, tell me that everything was going to be okay. I walked into their room and used my phone for light, but to my surprise he wasn’t there. I walked back to the hallway and looked at the shut office door with light coming from underneath it. Maybe he wasn’t tired and decided to do some work. That thought made me feel better because then I wouldn’t be waking him up, but as soon as I opened the door, my heart already-failing heart felt like it had stopped working completely. There was my dad: eyes red, cheeks stained. He sat on the floor holding a tissue wet with tears. This was the first time in my thirteen years alive that I had seen my dad cry.