Friday, July 10, 2020

Rebirth and Awakening - Stay at Home Photo Diary and Reflections (Part 2)

Our first time leaving home for a reason other than going to the grocery store was to march in the Altadena protest for Black Lives.  I felt that it was necessary for us to do it, even though we would be breaking quarantine.  The energy that the protesters brought forth was truly moving, and there were many tears during the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence observed.  We celebrated Juneteenth for the first time, with so much more awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and what it means for everyone.  We watched many documentaries and engaged in conversation about systemic racism and our unique experiences and perspectives as Asian Americans in this system.  I started consistently playing piano again, beginning with learning the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice.  We ordered takeout food more often this month in an effort to support Black-owned businesses and Chinese-owned businesses.  International Yoga Day was this month, and I thought about how applicable the practice of yoga is to activism: to fall and get back up, to stay committed, to keep breathing through the hard stuff.  This has been perhaps the heaviest month so far in the pandemic.  It's also been a time of extremely deep reflection. There was much to consider on all sides.

During all of this, it was hard to get excited about cooking, but we eventually got back to it.  We made a lot of comfort food, like pizza and banana bread.  Part of that was also because I started to have some interesting cravings... and aversions.  The yard was buzzing with life as the weather stayed mellow.  There were birds and squirrels doing fascinating things throughout the day.  We ordered an epic amount of mulch to keep the weeds at bay.  Also, we started another garden box because our neighbor graciously gave us two tomato plants that she grew from seed and our neighbor on the other side gave us a fully grown shiso plant. I thought of this quote that my sister painted on a garden sign for my mom, "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow."  In the wake of grappling with the many emotions of anger, sadness, guilt, and confusion that bubbled up and overflowed after George Floyd was killed, it was hard to have any hope.  Plus, we were still stuck in this pandemic.  As hard as it was to trust that we could make the future better than the present, we eventually realized that we must find a way to be hopeful in order to stay motivated.

Already, rebirth and renewal seemed to be the theme of the month.  We never felt more strongly about applying our privilege towards making socially responsible choices and the importance of raising our children to be empathetic, aware, and socially conscious adults.  I had taken a pregnancy test in the beginning of June and it came up positive.  Though I was afraid to hope, it was hard to ignore nature's perfect timing this time.  We learned a lot since we've started trying for a baby, maybe it was finally culminating.  Again, I was caught in cycles of feeling hopeless and excited all at the same time.  It wasn't until we had our first early ultrasound and actually heard the baby's heartbeat (at 6.5 weeks!) that I allowed myself to more openly embrace the idea.  This newly glowing life that we created could be part of a generation that will impact positive change in our world.  This little life was going to be our investment into creating a better community for all.

We went to a candlelight vigil in memory of George Floyd held in Altadena.  It was sober.  I know how I would feel if this happened to someone Taiwanese American--fearful, outraged, sad.  I'm only just beginning to learn about how our Black brothers and sisters have had to go through this kind of trauma and grief for four hundred years, since the day their ancestors were brought to the U.S. as slaves.  The same day that this vigil was scheduled, we received notifications that there would be a mandatory curfew throughout LA County due to the crazy looting that has been happening throughout Los Angeles.  We were unsure if this important vigil was still going to happen, but we went over anyway and it was still on.  I am glad that we could support, and also I felt sorry that I was so helpless in the situation. 

The march was a few days after that.  We knew we had to go.  This was our neighborhood, these were our neighbors, the victims live among us and we have a responsibility to this country.  Masks stayed on the whole time, of course, and fortunately we did not catch the virus despite being among hundreds if not a thousand people.

Breonna Taylor

We felt proud to live in this diverse city full of people who care.  

Juneteenth was never on my radar, but this year we committed to educating our future children and standing in solidarity with Black people.  We picked up food from a local Black-owned business: Pasadena Fish Market.  Everything is good there!!

Wes captured more pictures of animals in our yard.

(I, too, am an animal.)

I remember that the last meal I ate with a normal appetite was jerk chicken and fried okra from Pasadena Fish Market. After that, it was days of chicken noodle soup and porridge. Wes tried to make my favorite Hainan chicken, but I couldn't really eat more than a few bites because something about poultry, rice, and sauteed vegetables turned me off (I was still eating roasted turkey after our first ultrasound just a week ago ago, though!).  Suddenly, I craved comfort foods like In-n-Out, Chipotle, hot dogs, pasta, bagels, tacos, grilled sandwiches, Korean barbecue, and dumplings. And randomly, key lime pie.

I continued to work extended school year, providing teletherapy from home, and finally quit going to the skilled nursing facility in the interest of protecting our baby.  Many naps were taken between and after high-energy therapy sessions with kids and their parents.  Who knew that being ten feet away from the bedroom on a daily basis was going to be such a blessing in disguise?  

And just like that another one-and-a-half months in quarantine have passed.  The days feel uneventful, but the pace is comfortable and slow.  With the possibility of adding to our family on the horizon, we are taking all of this in more than ever.  Cooking elaborately, tending to the yard, doing yoga, completing house projects, working without interruption, are all things that we might miss.  Our perspective has changed a lot in the last few weeks, and though there is much to improve upon, there is still much to be grateful for.

Reflecting back from this point, it has been a year of ups and downs, but overall growth and awakening.  Flaws in the "reliable" systems that have allowed me to reach my goals have been freakishly exposed.  This includes not only my reproductive system, which I’ve always taken for granted, but also the systems underlying education, economy, environment, healthcare, crime, law enforcement, etc.  However, coming to terms with these realities does not mean canceling them out.  What good does that do?  On the Fourth of July, there was a lot of negativity on social media revolving around our democracy.  But we discussed this between ourselves and we still think that we live in a country built on the right values, and we believe that most Americans still stand for the same desires, even though there's work to be done: liberty and justice for all.  Nothing is perfect, but nothing is hopeless.  Impacting change is necessary now, but it starts from my inner self and mentality, and that is where I have the most control.  As for this pregnancy, it's worth it to have some faith in myself, too, even though I've seen failure.  No matter what happens next, I would say that this time will prove to be a turning point in our lives, where we are thinking beyond ourselves a lot more than we had been before.

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