Where did Pablo Neruda go?

The short answer is nowhere.

One of the problems I have been known to contend with often is consistency. Ironically, that’s part of the reason I started the project in the first place. As we all know, life tends to happen as it does.

If there were a couple of spots, including yesterday, and the time before that was a more prolonged period during which nothing was posted. But don’t worry, it’s mainly because of two things: first, I very likely have ADHD. For me, that usually translates to wanting to do anything and everything that interests me, and overloading myself with countless possibilities and stretching myself too thin. As it relates to this, I got caught up trying to think of what to do next. Because I want to keep working on poetry, I want to keep improving my facility with the Spanish language, and I have another book to work with, but I didn’t really feel like it was suitable for the blog. So it took me a while to figure out what to do next as a kind of anxiety great to me as I approach the end of the specific Pablo Neruda book that I am working with.

I finally figured out what to do next: I’m going to be working on a small collection of poems that were originally written in Spanish by Jose Rizal in the Philippines. I hope you guys enjoy it and hopefully find some value in it. There are six more pieces to go in my current endeavor, and I will probably take a week off from doing poetry interputation just to relax and get to some things that I’ve been neglecting. So I will see you guys tomorrow at some point, depending on when you read this tomorrow might actually be two days from now… LOL 🙂

PS. I wrote this for myself just as much as I did for you guys, thanks for sticking with it!


On the Utility of Labels


So, I normally use this blog as a place to put my creative writing. It is primarily a place for my ideas to live. Sometimes though, I feel the need to express my thoughts in a more direct way. For my international readers, it’s worth noting here that I live in the United States. I will be speaking from this vantage point.

In the national discourse here, I have seen things divide into two very distinct in disparate camps of thought: one of which uses labels as a means to demean, oppress, marginalize, and ignore. The other camp thinks that it’s a fantastic idea to abolish the habit of labeling in its entirety because of the problems that the former way of thinking creates. However, in my mind, this is also fallacious thinking. The thinking of the latter group 6 to abolish labeling in order to paint a more human picture of humanity, ironically. I say ironically because you can’t make someone not human who is already human. You can try to use legislative trickery to take away the rights of a certain group, but you cannot take away the fact that the group is comprised of humans. I’m kind of getting a little off topic here. Sorry about that.

The thing about labels is that sometimes they’re useful. They are things that we can often use to refer to certain aspects of ourselves in order to better explain them. For example, I often refer to myself as disabled, or a person with a disability. In my particular case, it isn’t really all that important to me which one you use, as long as you don’t use a derogatory term like retarded or handicapped. The first indicating that I have some kind of mental deficiency… Which I clearly don’t. And the second implies a level of brokenness that needs to be repaired medically. I’m also a Pacific Islander, I’m also a Filipino-American. I’m also of native Hawaiian descent. All of these things are labels that I use to describe myself, terms or phrases of self-reference. I also have depression, and I’m also a trauma survivor. These words and phrases tell you something about me, that’s why I use them in the first place. None of these labels in and of themselves will tell you who I am.

All of this is to say that labels don’t necessarily need to be judged as inherently bad. It’s what we do with them that matters. It’s a lot easier for me to use some of these things to describe things about me than it is for me to tell you the various stories which belie each of them. I can if someone is interested, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day. To be quite honest, there may be days where I don’t even want to. But whether we’re talking about the Myers-Briggs label of me being in ENTP, the descriptor I use for my ethnic identity, my disability or whatever… These things are particularly useful to me as a person. With that, I give you one final thought: it isn’t labels that are necessarily bad, it’s how we use them that determines their worth. When someone uses labels of their choosing to describe themselves, don’t shut down the conversation by insisting on a particular lexicon, instead, listen to what that person is trying to tell you by invoking that usage. Maybe then you’ll be able to see the story behind that term or phrase. In doing so, we will take power away from those who would use such labels to undermine our humanity, and give the power back to the communities who use them as a means of self-reference and identification to form bonds with others in their communities, thereby empowering social change on our own terms.

Chess Reflecting Life

I was doing some Chessmaster tutorials yesterday, and it taught me something. I grew up in a way where manipulation was the only way that I could get what I thought I needed from people outside the family, and sometimes inside. Not because my childhood was extraordinarily traumatic, or because there’s anyone to blame in my estimation, but because my upbringing but socially strict. I wasn’t really allowed to have friends over, almost ever. So, in order to maintain relatively normal looking social relationships when I was at school, I learned to keep people at arms length through some tools of social engineering, let’s call them.
Because of having to do that, I feel guilty now, so in chess, I am afraid to sacrifice a piece to get a better position because there is a strong fear of needing any piece later on. This reflects how I have sincere people leaving me when I need support the most.  I didn’t know it got that deep inside of me. It’s interesting how a game can often elucidated things outside it’s Amelia domain. I’ll never be a Chessmaster, but I will always love the game, for the puzzles, but also for the lessons.

Lent Post #8: Listen


Today, I almost didn’t write anything. It’s not because I don’t want to, but sometimes when you’re tired the last thing you want to do is stick to a 40-day regiment of consistent and persistent writing. It’s also because I’ve been keeping something pretty close to the vest for a long time. About a year ago, my grandfather asked me to write his biography. If I would’ve started when he asked me, I’d probably be around halfway done by now. So, why didn’t I? I wish the answer were a simple one. But I’ll do my best to explain it here and try to get into the meat of my post as soon as possible. There were a couple of things that I struggled with: the first of which being the death of my grandmother. It hit me hard, and I know that it hit my grandfather even harder. The second of which is that my grandfather speaks sometimes using terms that are anachronisms of speech, no longer suitable for common parlance.

But in the year of struggling to find how to approach everything going on in my life, I didn’t really find any answers. So, I just begin to listen. And something happened, I began to see that underneath sometimes offensive terminology, no doubt an artifact of serving in one of the most racist branches of the military (Korea and Vietnam era), and merely trying to fit in, there was and is a deep appreciation for people from all walks of life. But many people wouldn’t know this if they were simply turned off by things like word choice.

I once had a very long discussion with a couple of friends of mine about this very thing. One of whom told me that their father is prone to the same thing and that they confront their father on a regular basis in an attempt to retrain how their dad speaks. There’s only one problem, though, my grandfather is literally almost 3 times their father’s age. I was also confronted with something else: many people in my age group have no idea how to relate to the elderly. In American culture, there is not left much reverence for the aged and infirmed, instead, we prefer the vitality of youth. Don’t think so? Look at popular media here in the United States. We often disregard the wisdom of our elders as having little relevance in today’s world. What I learned, is that in cases where this is true, my grandfather is acutely aware of that fact. But all too often, in my youth I found myself unwilling to listen because I used to believe that in all cases (believe me, I know this is still true in many cases, but stay with me here), one’s choice of words does not necessarily produce a clear picture of how that person thinks. I thought that my grandfather’s dated terminology for people that sometimes bordered on the offensive meant that he embodied all of the thoughts that such terminology is said to betray. I was wrong.

Once I let go of that, I realized how complicated a person my grandfather really is. I hope in the remaining time that I have left with him, I can at least take a peek at the core of one of a small handful of people who are responsible for who I am. What I’m trying to say is: learn to listen to what a person is saying, rather than simply how they are saying it. Old habits die hard, and it’s important to learn to truly listen instead of simply reading your own interpretation on to a place where it does not belong. I know some of you will disagree, and I used to save us all the time… But for the first time, I find it to be true: I really don’t care. And I couldn’t be prouder of who my grandfather is, and in turn the person I’m becoming.

Because you know what? Beneath all the superficial things that used to prevent me from really hearing him, I found the source of my affinity for languages, as at one point my grandpa could read and speak five different languages, and I have found the roots of my view that while humanity will always be deeply flawed, there are still worthy of basic human dignity, and love. Those are things that I will never regret.

Lent Post #2: Remember

I don’t really know what to call this post. All I can really say about it is that it was born from watching and listening to hours of Joseph Campbell lectures in combination with watching a few of my friends and family members struggle to maintain a kind of peace within as the turbulence of life showed itself to be a force of reckoning. I will let the piece speak for itself. Enjoy, and thank you for reading!

In the west, in our “modern culture,” there is often little feeling that there is a connection between us, in between those who came before. There is a tendency to think there our problems are novel; therefore, they must be unexplainable. Often, this isn’t The case. We are species with multivariate cultures and lineages, with bloodlines and independent yet interconnected histories that are a constant show of human strength and ingenuity.

From this perspective I offer: when you fail, still carry yourself with the utmost Pride, for our ancestors did the same regardless of how many turbulent seas of life they crossed without maps or guides of any kind. When you succeed, look up to the starry night and picture each bright incandescent orb as an ornament upon your family tree and remember that the ones who came before you are the ones who brought you to these shores, Long before you were but you were a thought even on the periphery of someone’s mind. They shared the same hopes, fears, similar aspirations all dressed in different cloth, but the same in essence. Let them celebrate with you, let their strength be yours, remember… No matter what land your ancestors came from, each of them in some way was a warrior, Wayfinder, A craftsman, and many other things. No matter what happens in life, carry yourself with the pride of knowing that others before you have made it, and you will too. You will do it somehow, in your own way. You will. Just because we are all flawed in some way doesn’t mean that defeat, in the total and utter sense, is never a certainty

Lent Post #1: A Day of Mourning

Once again, I find myself in a place where I have not touched this blog in quite a while. Lots of things have come and gone that I won’t go into here. Regardless, the fact remains that I need to get back to writing. After all, I wrote a book. And once upon a time, I thought writing a book would finally turn means that mythical beast that many have called a writer. Such a magical creature never suffers from the mundane roadblocks of mere mortals such as writer’s block. At least, that’s what I thought. But here I am, and I haven’t written a book in almost 2 years. I haven’t even really begun one… Yet! So why not start here?
As many of you know, I grew up Catholic. While I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, the season of Lent is upon us and I thought it would be a good opportunity to use it to rebuild something that I allowed the tides of life to wash from my shores. For the next 40 days (yes, I know I’m a little late), I will be writing one entry a day, and I’m going to start with this one. If you’ll forgive me a bit of rambling, there is something I’d very much like to say about lent itself before I get into the meat of this post. The way we were taught about lent as children was that we gave up something every year in order to take part in a small piece of the sacrifice made for us by the figure of Jesus Christ. Many people go about this by giving up chocolate, coffee, certain TV addictions, or what have you. And that’s perfectly fine if that’s what someone wishes to do. But I began thinking that it might be better to add something to your life that you have been waiting for the opportunity to explore. Kind of like an extended jumpstart to a New Year’s resolution, only slightly later in the year. That’s what I intend to do this year: to participate in lent is what I would call a cultural Catholic, rather than adherent to the Catholic faith. Consequently, I will be ending the day after Easter Sunday… 🙂

Now, on to my originally planned portion of the post. Yesterday, on March 1, 2017, I had the honor of taking part in a national day of mourning in remembrance of people with disabilities who have perished at the hands of caregivers, be they hired or family. There were many names, and for an hour and a half we’ve read those names is a group out loud, we also told how the people died, as well as their age. I’ve known this to be a problem in the disability community all of my life, but I had never had the experience of having it placed so plainly before me. I found myself filled with a combination of rage, sadness, and a kind of empathetic fear.

It might help if I unpacked that idea a little bit. What was the empathetic fear that I so deeply felt? It was fear in recognition of the fact that my name could quite literally be added to that list if the circumstances presented themselves. During that time, I also began to feel a kind of silent sadness at the fact that so many people will not be able to participate and lend their voices to the growing movement of disabled rights advocacy. We will not get to hear their needs, their sorrows, nor their brilliant ideas. Worst of all, these were lives that were needlessly snuffed out by people who saw these individuals as mere burdens to be eradicated by laying those burdens down in an extremely gruesome fashion. When I say gruesome, I mean gruesome. There were stories of people who died at the hands of paid killers. There were stories of people who were literally left in closets for weeks at a time to starve, neglected to suffer horrid infections… Some had their heads bashed in shortly after being brought into the world. I was left to ask, “what is the value of human life? And what is it that it means to be human?”I am left with the overwhelming feeling that certain lives are devalued merely because they don’t fit some preconceived idea, either that is carried with the individual passing judgment, or by society at large. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which, because these people are gone.

As my long-term followers may recall, I wrote a book called The Gimpy Monologues. At the time, I didn’t really know who the book was for. I just wrote it because I felt like it needed to be written, yet I couldn’t quite articulate why. Now I know. While I don’t want to write about disability for the rest of my life, I know that the books I do write about disability are so that an understanding grows from them. And through that understanding, it is my hope that future generations of people born with various medical conditions which present obstacles in their daily lives, will be born to a global community that sees them for who they truly are: simply another individual partaking in the bittersweet human experience. You’ll notice that in the post I have included an image of the names which were read that night. It is for you that I continue, and it is for us all that I will continue to write and to do my best to open the eyes of those around me. I’m truly sorry that I didn’t see it before.

Please forgive me.

PS. If you are interested at all in purchasing my book which I have done a horrible job of promoting on this blog, please note that you can find it here.

I Am Awake: 30 Days of Poetic Meditation Day 4

Deutsch: Yin Yang
Deutsch: Yin Yang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Slithering and scaled
Most griped with fear,
They have become deaf
Your message they cannot hear
Close to the earth, lord of the naga, you feel its vibrations
You follow your finely tuned instincts without any hesitation.
Your children, the dragons of yin and yang
They enter into me, and eradicate the doung (demons)
My mind is quiet,
Your gracious yet fearsome hood protects me
As I sit with you my gracious protector,
Keeper of earthen wisdom.
You ask me,
“Why the hatred?”
“What is your mission?”
“Where are you?”
“Who are you?”
I said to the lord of the naga:
I can feel the heartbeat of the universe.
The trillions of stars across countless galaxies pulse in time with my own.
I see lines that all connect to me,
and to each other.
Love is the divine will of the universe.
Where love in its truest form exists,
There can be no hatred,
So I will take all the pain and the hatred,
and I will turn it into love,
I will use my will of fire,
use my will of fire,
and transmute it into love.
I am awake.