non fiction essay

“When I was a child, when I was an adolescent, books saved me from despair: that convinced me that culture was the highest of values.”

—Simone de Beauvoir, The Woman Destroyed

Acceptance as a Queer Asian American

Coming out as pansexual to my grandmother was an extremely important, and I believe, pivotal moment in my life as a queer, Asian young adult. I believe this for many reasons, but there are two specific ones that over shadow the rest.

The first of those is what it meant to me as a Japanese-American woman to feel safe enough and confidant enough in who I was to come out to my grandmother. For the majority of my queer journey up to this point, I was dead set on the fact that I could never tell my grandmother my sexual orientation. No matter the circumstance, I was sure that my grandmother would not understand or approve. No matter the circumstance, there was a great chance of my losing my relationship with her, my strongest tie to my Japanese heritage and her presence in my life as a third parent could be gone forever. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the love between us or isolate myself even more than I already felt from the Japanese community.

As much as my refusal to share my identity with my grandmother was based in my fear of her not loving me anymore, a good portion was also based in how I felt my faux-heterosexuality was essentially tied to my right to my Japanese heritage. I already felt like an imposter for being biracial and I felt that my admission to being attracted to more than just men would give the community more reason to exile me, revoke my membership that I’d come to believe I could only have if my grandmother backed me first. After all, my grandmother was the closest resource I had for my culture and language. Everything that made me feel Japanese I could attribute to her: my round face, olive skin, and almond eyes, my short stature and straight frame, my knowledge of Japanese tradition and lore with her songs and stories, my induction to Japanese pop culture with Studio Ghibli, candies and sweets, cartoons by Sanrio, and watching her Japanese shows on the TV, my love of the Japanese food she’d raised me on, the miso shiru and gyoza that marked my childhood, my interest and grasp of the Japanese language that she’d spoke and sang to me all my life. If she disowned me for this, it would feel like the entire Japanese and Asian community behind her would disown me as well.

When I finally decided to come out as pansexual to my grandma I was twenty. Four years after my official acceptance of the label, I’d gained enough confidence in my intersectionality of identities, enough love and pride for them all, that none of them could be affected by her acceptance or disapproval. My forgiveness and acceptance of my white, Scottish family and heritage had allowed me to discard the shame I felt for being mixed race in the Asian community. My growth and education in my Japanese heritage, history, and language had given me confidence in my identity as a Japanese person that no amount of racial slurs, stereotypes, or discrimination I received from any group of people could shake. My growth and knowledge of my self as a sexually and gender queer person and found footing in the LGBTQ+ community had shed the self hatred and fear of rejection from my mind. As painful as losing my grandmother would be, it would not and could not break me as might have before. I was tired of living behind lies. Being able to do something about that without fear of losing myself in my lost relationship was the most liberating thing I’d felt in my history with my Japanese and queer identities.

The second of the two reasons is absolutely the way my grandmother responded to my coming out. She both met my expectations and surprised me in the best of ways. And by that I mean that her reaction was so explicitly something my grandmother would say and do, but my fear of the worst case scenario had clouded my ability to perceive this outcome over the former.

I saw the opportunity to tell her over a conversation we had started about the recent mass shooting of LGBTQ+ people in Orlando, Florida. The devastation she expressed over the massacre, her clear understanding of the hateful prejudice behind the crime, it allowed me to see her clearer than before.

“I don’t understand why people do that!” I remember her shouting. “Why you got to hurt and kill people just because you disagree? Megan, it does not matter who you love, who I love, it doesn’t matter! Just because you believe doesn’t give you right to take another’s life!”

With her words my perceptions changed. My biases that often allowed me to view her as a stubborn child with an adult’s face and experiences had been pushed aside. Instead of the previously held image I’d had, my view of my grandmother had shifted to that of a women who’d experienced much hardship and shut out many new people and ideas because of it, but was still capable of growth and acceptance of new social norms and ways of thinking. This new image, this new perception of my grandma was a kinder, softer one than I’d met previously. It was one that I was safe with, I could feel it in my stomach and my cheeks.

“You know, it’s kind of scary for people like me, people who like more than just the opposite sex, people like those killed in that club, to be alive right now,” I said. “I’m like them, I like more than just boys, I want to date a girl someday, and it scares me that someone might want to kill me for that.”

My grandmother stared at me for a moment, her bony arms encircling her small legs, a high hum coming from her throat. That hum and the noise of her TV that never got turned off were the only sound in the room for several moments.

“You like girls?” She asked, then gestured to the news on the TV. “Like those people?”

I nodded and she made the same high hum.

“Well you know, Megan,” she said, looking down then back up again. I could feel my heart pounding heavily against my chest. “it does not matter who you love what you believe because you are my granddaughter. You are my first granddaughter and I will love you and take care of you always.”

I felt tears pricking my eyes and my heart slow its pace. I’d cried coming out to each of my parents so far, but this was the first time my tears were from joy.

With my mother I’d cried with frustration and anger at her lack of understanding and patronizing questions. Despite her general acceptance and “I’ll always love you” concluding statements, it’d hurt that she’d had so many concerns and objections. With my father I’d cried with rage, the pain of betrayal, the pain of lost love, and a fear for my livelihood then forward. He’d made me feel like a child running from home who truly had no option of turning back. He’d made me feel like his promises to love and care for me all these years had been out right lies.

But with my grandmother, all I’d felt was an overwhelming happiness from her words. Her straightforward acceptance, her attempt to understand me with out being invasive… I hadn’t been aware of how desperately I’d needed her to respond in this way until she had. With it I felt a tremendous weight lifted off my chest and a surge of love and emotion.

Seeing my watering eyes, my grandmother leaned forward and hugged me. I laughed at how her arms could hardly reach around my shoulders and I scooted closer so to make it easier for her. She patted my back with her bony, knobby, hands and kissed my head.

“I don’t care who you love, Megan. I love you first and that’s what’s important.”

I sniffled and laughed, squeezing her waist in my arms.

“Arigatou gozaimasu, obaachan. Aishite,” I said. “Thank you, grandma. I love you.”

Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.
—  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
Another friend tells you you have to learn not to absorb the world. She says sometimes she can hear her own voice saying silently to whomever—you are saying this thing and I am not going to accept it. Your friend refuses to carry what doesn’t belong to her.
—  Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric

“‘You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?’ Aunty Ifeka said. ‘Your life belongs to you and you alone.’”

—from Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

momoemarias replied to your post “another observation about that particular episode: I’m honestly…”

Totty says things in such a matter-of-fact, innocent tone that it’s hard to tell sometimes.

E X A C T L Y, it makes him so interesting to analyse but hard to come to definitive conclusions about…. International Matsu of Mystery

We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things — metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.
—  Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense
7

The Wes Anderson Collection By: Matt Zoller Seitz

The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research “childhood.”

I’m not interested in anybody’s guilt. Guilt is a luxury that we can no longer afford. I know you didn’t do it, and I didn’t do it either, but I am responsible for it because I am a man and a citizen of this country and you are responsible for it, too, for the very same reason… Anyone who is trying to be conscious must begin to dismiss the vocabulary which we’ve used so long to cover it up, to lie about the way things are.
—  James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
3

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”

—from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafón

12 Hours in the ICU

I’m poking my head up from the dozens of hours spent on writing and stressing about residency applications to do some writing that’s a bit more fun! Here’s something I put together based on some of my journal entries from my ICU rotation I completed last month. :) 

Hope you enjoy!


06:24 There are peaches on the windowsill, someone has left them there, forgotten. Two perfectly round, fat peaches reminding me that despite the darkness of the morning outside, somewhere beyond the window it’s still summer. Joe is fighting against the tube in his throat, his hands are tied in soft restraints so he won’t pull out the tiny piece of plastic standing between him and death. His forearms are scrapped, swollen, dried blood crusted over the road rash. The cuts are deep and spiderweb over the tattoos that cover his arms. His four-year-old son’s name is written above his elbow, unmarked, but the name of the neighborhood he grew up in, one word each printed on the back of each forearm, now takes me a moment to decipher. On the left, the name of his unit in Iraq is sliced through with blood crusted up over the start date of his first tour of duty. The dates of the next two tours are printed clearly. He bucks up against the restraints. I take my hand in his, speaking softly. He slumps back against the pillows, deep down into his propofol sleep again; I place my stethoscope against his chest. The sun is hidden behind the clouds, I stare at the orange peaches in the gray light as I listen to his heart beat firmly on still alive, still alive, still alive.

Keep reading

“The mistake you make, don’t you see, is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money ? You’re trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can’t. One’s got to change the system, or one changes nothing.”

—from Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell

Editing for the Starving Artist

I, a completely broke writer, know what it’s like to consider hiring an editor to look at your work only to find out they are going to be charging about $45 for two pages. I think we can help each other out.

You need editing from someone who has years of experience with writing, criticism, analyses, and editing for cheap. I need someone who will pay me to use my editing skills and won’t care that my 6+ years of experience doesn’t include a college degree. From one starving artist to another. Let’s negotiate.

I work with any sort of prose, including fiction (short stories, novels, fanworks, etc) and non-fiction (essays, articles, blog posts, etc). My services include:

  • Basic copyediting: Editing style, consistency, syntax/construction, grammar, punctuation, etc.
  • Basic copyediting and substantive editing: Editing both technical correctness/consistency and analyzing/critiquing content and quality.
  • Heavy copyediting and/or substantive editing: Full on, hands in the mud, both-feet-in editing but with less mixed metaphors
  • I might even do some ghostwriting if you can talk me into it

And the best part is that all the prices are negotiable. We can haggle based on your need, the type/length of the work, my need, what mood I’m in, etc.

Here’s how it works:

  • Email me (writingfreakfreelance@gmail.com) with the details about your work and your situation
  • What type of writing is it (short story, school essay, novel, blog post, etc)? How long is the entire piece (how many words, not pages) and how much of that do you want my services for? Some basics about your intended audience would be nice too (if it’s a YA Fantasy novel, mention that, or if you’re submitting it to a writing competition or w/e).
  • What are circumstances in your life I will want to keep in mind (do you work, will I be able to reach you daily, when will you be able to pay me, etc)? When do you need my response?
  • I’ll email you back with an offer both on price and on deadline, you can counter-offer, and so forth until we reach an agreement.
  • Right now I am only using PayPal but if there are some other electronic payment things out there that are more accessible to you I will look into those
  • You will need to have an easy way of sharing your piece with me (Google docs or Word documents attached to the email work great, for short pieces [less than 2,000 words] pasting directly into the body of the email is fine)

If you have any questions, message or email me! I look forward to reading your stories soon <3

“If you want to overcome the whole world, overcome yourself.”

—from Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.”

— from Why I Write by George Orwell