Inertia

March 29, 2020

Dear diary,

I think I want a pen pal. I read that kids used to send each other letters and they would get to know each other, their communities and their life. I think I want a pen pal. I know that I’m an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need friends. Ever since my roommate died, I’ve been alone. Well, actually my siblings have rooms right next to me, but I don’t want to talk to babies. And they are my siblings. Not my friends.

I wonder if there is a “pen pal” sign up sheet somewhere. I’ll have to ask mom.

The extra-ordinary interruptions of the chicken parade has stopped. The chickens are all living in the outside coop now. So we are back to the normalcy of my quiet room.

But the weird thing is… I kind of miss them. I complained about them, I know. But I kind of got used to the change. The shift. The alternate reality. Is this what inertia is? Wanting everything to stay the same just for the sake of no change? And I thought I was an adaptable, agile thinker. I thought I was one of those beings—unafraid of change, unafraid of challenges.

I can hear mom now—you being hard on yourself when you are going through difficult times—that’s like drinking poison to make the pain go away. Resist the urge to be mean to yourself. With all the discipline you have, push back to the hostility. Don’t invite Donald into your brain where he can fuck with your well-being. Create distractions. Big distractions like practice love: reaching out to a friend. Or small distractions like a video game. Be gentle and kind. Grieving for loss, grieving for change is not a bad thing. It is not a sign of weakness. It means you care. It means you love. It means you lost something.

Okay. Today I will make a list of healthy distractions.

Love, Bob

Be in the now

March 27, 2020

Dear diary,

I ask mom if she still loved me. Mom hugged me tightly and said, of course I still love you. I’m so sorry that I’ve been so grumpy lately. I’ve been a bit anxious and I haven’t been processing it in a healthy way.

What do you mean?

I’ve been living in the future: thinking about all the things that could go wrong. And then I find myself in a dark place. And I feel lost, alone and scared.

But I’m here with you right now. And I have to keep reminding myself of that. I’m here with you right now. And if I focus on this conversation with you, and if I focus on giving you a big smooshy hug, and sing and dance to the latest BTS song, then I don’t have to live in the future. Because I’m honoring the now.

But mommy, didn’t you say that we should always have a plan for the future if we don’t want to be like the grasshoppers who only sing and dance in the summer, only to be frozen in the winter?

Yes, my love. But we can do both! We are still making plans: for now, we stay home and we only go out for groceries and medicine. And when I say “we” I mean “daddy”. And our plan is to create healthy distractions for ourselves, like FaceTiming friends, playing video games, practicing piano, violin, or ukulele, and creating drawings, aprons or diy terrariums.

I heard a story of a young woman who started writing letters longhand and sending them out to her loved ones. How beautiful is that! That is honoring yourself, the ones you love and the fact that we have to stay isolated. Do you want to write a few letters Bob?

Um, no. Is it okay if I go and play some video games?

Absolutely.

Sigh. I have my mom back.

Love, Bob

ZOOM

March 26, 2020

Dear diary,

WTF. I mean seriously. What is going on. I don’t understand it. Why. Why. Why.

Everyone is up in my face everyday, all day, all night, every single moment.

I am an introvert. I love my silence. I love my solitude. But for some reason our entire family is inside MY home all day, all night, talking, singing, sewing, cooking, chatting, video game playing, movie playing, and zooming NON STOP.

WTF is ZOOM anyway?!!!

Dad has been staying up until midnight and mom gets up between 3:00-4:00 am and starts sewing. I get three hours of silence to myself. What. The. Fuck.

I would barely see a human once every two days. Which was more than fine with me. These days the chickens are being carted back and forth from their basement house to their outdoor coop twice a day. Mom says it’s to acclimate them to outside living. In the mean time they are walking through MY ROOM every fucking day. One chicken at a time. Mom holds one of the girls in her arms and walks them outside to their main outdoor coop. Then she returns to get the second chicken. Then the third. We have four chickens. That’s four trips total. That’s eight interruptions in the morning alone. Then this is repeated again in the evening. That’s sixteen. Do I not get ANY PRIVACY?!!! Ugh. UGH! Ugh.

And then there is the “pantry.” MY ROOM has been turned into a pantry. Mom stocked up on rice, pasta, flour and chickpeas. What is going on? I don’t understand it. Did mom turn into a vegetarian? I did hear mom say that she might have to go off milk the other day. I asked her why. And she told me of a cow who was a milk cow. Every year this milk cow would give birth to a calf, the calf would be carted away, and the humans would milk her nonstop. This happened for six years in a row. Then one day this cow was tagged to be slaughtered. But some humans rescues her. And brought this milk cow to their farm. One day, the milk cow started disappearing into the woods for days at a time. Only to return to the farm for some snacks and water. When the farmers finally walked over to where the cow was hiding, they found that the milk cow had given birth to a new calf. The milk cow had hidden her baby from the humans. Because they kept taking her baby away from her. So she hid her baby. In the woods. To keep it safe. Okay, so I also think mom might have to give up milk. I’m not crying.

Mom is so preoccupied these days that she can barely keep herself from yelling at me when I want to know what’s going on. Her temper seems to be on edge all day. She seems to be so nice to the people she is ZOOMing with, but man, is she mad at us. Maybe it’s because she’s not sleeping. And mom says that she’s having many, many nightmares. I’m a bit afraid of her these days. I wonder if I did something wrong. Now I’m scared. I wonder if she still loves me. I think I need a hug.

Love, Bob

Support, family and belonging

January 22, 2020

Dear diary,

Mom is going to a trans parents support meeting today. Mom says she feels like crying just thinking about going to this meeting. Somehow, being with people whose goal is to JUST SUPPORT YOU—this is a concept that was very foreign to mom when she was growing up.

Family. Home. The place where you go for sleep, nourishment and shelter—for mom this came with a price. The price was fear. Fear of judgment, scoldings, and a never ending list of all the things mom was doing wrong. Or not enough of.

Home. Family. This was a hostile place, where you had to defend yourself from the “rules of the parental units.” They were right, you were wrong. Compassion was for stupid people who were not up to par and had to resort to kindness for survival. If one of mom’s parental units were to be kind, it was used as a device to pity people, and make the parental figure feel better about themselves.

Mom hated all of this. And mom thought this was wrong. But mom didn’t have the words to explain herself. Because she was a child. So she learned to keep it inside. But by keeping it inside, this idea turned into a knife. A knife of vengeance. A knife of: you are so wrong, therefore I must be very right. I will guard my righteousness with my life. Because if I am wrong, humans all suck, there is no hope and I have to die.

Mom lived with this knife for many, many years. She grew up into an adult and everywhere she went, mom carried this knife around. And somehow people knew about this knife. They knew. And they also knew that mom would not hesitate to use the knife. On herself, on others, all in the name of righteousness. Mom was, for a very long time, a very scary person.

One day mom realized that if she wanted to live harmoniously with other humans, she would have to do something about the knife. The knife that had protected her. The knife that had protected mom’s ideals of humanity. And mom started to put the knife down.

It took a lot of practice. Almost twenty years. But mom is now the owner of strength and might, but without the violence of the knife that she used to wield. And this is because mom has found compassion for humanity. It started out as pity for humanity. But the pity became sympathy, which grew into empathy and compassion.

Mom is going to a meeting today. To be supported. I love my mommy so much. I’m going to give her an extra hug today.

Love, Bob

b-day

January 9, 2020

Dear diary,

Mom and dad were very excited about their Christmas present this year. Every once in a while, mom and dad give themselves a gift that they can share. The first time it was a nice mattress. The second time, it was a fancy bathtub. This year they decided on getting a birthday.

Actually, they said, B-Day, which means birthday, right? I was confused. I asked mom about the b-day Christmas gift. Mom clarified and said, bee-day. Or did she say, buh-DAY. What?

So it turns out it’s called a bidet. Pronounced somewhat like buh-day. I looked it up in the dictionary: a low oval basin used for washing one’s genital and anal area.

Eeeeew. And somehow they’re going to share this thing? Why? How? Eeeeeew.

I learned that the word bidet is French in its origin, mom and dad learned about it during their trips to Korea, and now we have a Japanese made bidet in the house. We are so fucking global.

There were many options to chose from, so mom tells me. (I was done learning about bidets as soon as I found out it had something to do with the anus, but mom is so happy with this new doohickey, she can’t stop talking about it.)

So, back to the options: cheap ones, expensive ones, cold water only options, warm water options, heated seats, non-heated seats and one with a REMOTE CONTROL. Seriously.

Mom and dad debated about all these options.

At the forefront of things to consider: mom was going to do the installing, and mom being frugal she didn’t want to involve a plumber, so if mom and dad wanted heated water, it would have to be a part of the system. Otherwise, it was going to be cold water spraying your anus. I like cold water on my anus. It didn’t sound like mom and dad were too keen on the idea.

So that narrowed things down a bit.

Then the second decision that needed to be made was the control system: a fully attached arm with controls or a free flying, untethered, loosey-goosey remote control. A REMOTE CONTROL. It seemed like a no brainer at first. There was the option to have two different preference set ups for two different users. Hotter water? Cooler water? Spray strength: normal, soft or robust? Spray location: more to the front? More to the back? I mean seriously.

But then mom and dad looked at each other and said at the same time: what if we drop the fucker in the water?

So now we have a remote control-less, fully attached to the toilet control system bidet.

And that’s what mom and dad chose as their Christmas gift for themselves. A b-day.

Practice joy.

Love, Bob

Gone fishing

December 9, 2019

Dear diary,

Mom got the mother load of all splinters. She almost fainted. We live in a hundred year old house. That means the wood floors are also one hundred years old. In the winter, the wood becomes more brittle. And mom’s thick winter socks got caught and BAM.

The splinter went in deep. Mom could see the dark shadow of the splinter. She could see it hovering beneath the thick layer of skin at the ball of her left foot. Like a large fish might hover in the murky waters of a pond.

Mom had to hobble over to get some tweezers and a needle. As she quietly sat, trying to pry open her skin so that her body would give up the intruder, mom thought of the splinters she used to get when she was young.

When mom was a girl, she knew to go to her dad. Granddad would go so gently, so softly, so carefully, that you barely felt any pain. I know he didn’t but mom says it was almost like he was singing to her. The thing was that it took FOREVER to get the fucker out. But there was little pain.

If mom went to grandma, it would be short, but brutal. Dig, dig, dig, pinch, pull and the splinter was out.

Mom felt she liked granddad’s method better. Mom felt that granddad understood pain and honored it. Whereas grandma was, “fuck pain. You don’t even want to know what pain is. Come here and let’s do this.”

Today, mom hovered somewhere between grandma and granddad’s methods: mom went in directly and forcefully, but gave herself breaks as needed. When mom finally pulled out the 50 year old bass of a splinter, blood gushed out and dropped into the floor.

Mom put a bandaid on muttered to herself, “I am so grateful it was me who got the splinter. If it was anyone else in, they would have insisted on going to the ER.” She is not naming any names. (Dad. And maybe Jungmin. I can imagine dad saying: can you put me under?)

At least mom isn’t the only drama queen in this household.

Love, Bob

Themed

November 11, 2019

Dear diary,

After a week of being sick as a dog, mom is being weird. Or perturbed. Or maybe morbid? I don’t know, it’s confusing. Because as Jungmin says, “you aren’t wrong.”

So, mom got some fabric that has drawings of farm animals with their body parts portioned in dotted lines, with titles for each part: loin, ribs, ham, leg, wing, neck, thigh, chuck, shank, brisket and sirloin among others. It’s mostly black except for the drawings which is made of thin white lines. Mom says it’s for her Thanksgiving dress. (Yeah, mom is making themed dresses now. Ick.)

I asked her why it was a Thanksgiving dress. I thought it was like a “kitchen”, or “happy meat eater” dress. Mom says it’s a Thanksgiving dress because of all the animals we eat but mostly to symbolize how the Native Americans were murdered for this land. Like Jungmin says, “you aren’t wrong…”

Mom is going to visit her cute nieces for Thanksgiving. I sure hope she doesn’t bring this dress with her. Or her mood. Sheesh.

Love, Bob