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.

To be sure, unsure, etc.

Image credit: fineartamerica.com

I don’t know much about most things, but I do know that some things are just supposed to happen, and some are not –

I know that the moon is supposed to rise in the east and that dogs are supposed to bark at each other through chain link fences and that pomegranates are supposed to stain my shirt sleeves

and I know I would never want to be inside when they sky looks the way it did tonight.

But I’m not so sure that things are supposed to be like this;

I am not so sure that the pepper tree I stopped at today is the same type of pepper tree that I grew up with. It didn’t remind me of home in the same way they usually do. It should have been familiar to me, and it wasn’t.

I’m not at all sure of people like you, and I am not sure that the world should be melting and that we should all just be okay with it.

How should I be allowed to miss things before they’re gone? How can I possibly miss you when my hands are on your face and you’re standing directly in front of me? I’m not sure how that is even possible, and yet I do.

I must remind myself to look up every once in a while.

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.

photo credit: phoebewahl.tumblr.com

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.

photo credit: pinterest.com

Yet another piece of unsatisfactory writing!

I know today should be the day

the one where i take care of it

where i get it out of the way.

I give you the closure you need and i start anew.

But this happens too often

I think someone’s different and that I’ve fallen out of my pattern

and that’s when I tend to fall right back in.

It’s selfish to give myself the benefit of the doubt.

Capable of love,

capable of getting close,

capable of staying there.

At this point it is selfish to give myself the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe the September blues just have my tongue

but then again it’s almost October

and my feelings change with the month.

Everything I know is an extraction of someone else

of something else.

I’m off to a slow start this year.

And I couldn’t ask you to try and understand why that is.

There’s so many things I want done but

I don’t want to take the steps to accomplish those things.

So instead I bite my tongue,

pace back and forth,

stare at the ceiling,

tune people out,

bounce my leg up and down,

speak the same empty words that I do every fucking day (and yet I continue),

crack my knuckles,

evaluate lyrics.

I spend time dreaming about how I should be writing and how I could and how I hate what I’ve created here but I won’t change it

It’s easier to glide by,

like so.

And until I have the time,

until I have the headspace ,

this is how it has to be.

Even if I hate what it makes me do

High school wasn’t designed to make you love yourself.

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