We Are All Made of Stars

Author Note: Sorry the post today is so esoteric and navel-gazy. My thoughts are all in a jumble lately. A hazard of too much introspection, I suspect.

Going to a new therapist is like dating. You look for chemistry, a general sense of whether the therapist “gets” you, and whether their observations resonate with you and can engender change. Of course, all the therapist can see into your life is what you choose to tell them – and how you choose to tell them. And so lately, I’ve been in the odd situation of telling my doctor (heretofore known as Dr. T) about myself or what I think and feel, and then feeling as if she’s not quite getting me.

Of course, as I am not a trained psychologist, I’m sure she also takes into account a bunch of other things, so she isn’t totally going on what I say alone. And since we are still feeling each other out, there are bound to be misunderstandings. I get that. (And I’ve been quick to clarify or speak up when I feel it’s not quite right. At $140/hour, I’m not wasting sessions!)

But it got me thinking: What makes us who we are? Can we ever see ourselves clearly? Or are we destined, as Paul writes, to see ourselves “through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor 13:12 KJV) until we reach Heaven? Will we ever see each other “face to face”?

I find that not only can I not see myself clearly, I cannot even adequately explain myself without resorting to metaphor.

I am an infinite onion. Just when I think I’ve unlayered myself enough to get to the core, I find that the core I was looking for was really more layers. And that each section I peel back reveals not really my heart, but more protective layers. 

I am an archaeological dig and what we are searching for is my true self. My true motivations buried under centuries of dirt, to be found only after much digging, sifting, and patience. Even then, a dig is only a glimpse of the past, not truly the past.

When Dr. T asks me questions and I answer, and then she draws a conclusion and asks me if the comment rings true, I find myself scrabbling to explain myself.

I am a mixture of oil, vinegar, water, and other debris all shaken up, waiting for the different layers to settle and split. I am all mixed up, all these different aspects of me both true and untrue. I am unsure which is the deepest part, the most true. 

Even this post seems unnecessary opaque; impenetrable.

But seriously, how do we explain who we are? How do we begin to sum up decades of life and experience and feelings? Am I only my thoughts? My deepest, cruelest thoughts? My greatest hopes and dreams? Or am I merely my actions? My worst sins? My best moments? What is the Real Me? And does it matter?

I think of how millions of faithful Christians were devastated to learn that Mother Theresa harbored deep-seated doubts of God’s reality and did not feel His presence for the back half of her life. Does that mean she was not truly Christian? Faithful? Her whole life a lie? Or does that make her even more faithful because she persisted in doing her work and laboring as if God did exist?

And if even Mother Theresa didn’t have herself all figured out, how can I have a chance?

I tell myself that the map is not the terrain. That we are all paradoxes.

I hope that is true. That I am not only just one-dimensional. That we are all infinite. That we are all just a coin toss away from being gods and goddesses.

 

Fear and Loathing

Author’s Note: Not sure how to preface today’s post. For my friends who may worry about me, please know that I am ok for the most part. These thoughts are not the usual state of being for my brain. They do tend to run this way when I spiral into shame or when I despair. (As was the case when I wrote this.) When I was younger, these bouts would last days or weeks. But now, they last for at most, a few hours. 

This is not to say that I am perfectly fine. But mostly, my thoughts are manageable and I am not sitting in pain throughout the day. I am grateful that is the case because I know for many people, this condemning internal monologue is the norm and any respite from it is the deviation.

If you are suffering from Depression, please, GET HELP. You are not alone.

Deep down, I am deeply afraid.

What if they’re right? That I am nothing but a bully. Not good enough. Bad. Causing untold trauma to my kids.

I want to scream, “I can be good, too! I am not all bad!”

But I drown.

I want to stop breathing. Black out. Cease to exist. Except that would cause further trauma to my children.

How can I want another baby?

Jesus, have mercy. Jesus, help.

How do I get out of this dark, closeted space? Could this darkness be a mercy? If so, it is a severe mercy indeed.

I want my heart cut out. I want the earth to open up and swallow me whole. To curl up in a corner and die. Literally die.

Depression lies. 

Please let that be true.


Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255. (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)

Talent Is Not Enough

Today’s post is REALLY long. Sorry. Here’s the tl;dr version: Talent < hard work < Talent + hard work. 

Still with me? Alright then.  

Sometimes, when I look back upon my youth, I can only see my wasted potential. I see myself as a teenager, resentful and bitter that I was rarely recognized for my amazing singing voice, my brilliant acting, or my incredible piano playing skills. I mean, I was recognized, but not to the degree that others were – or to the degree that I desired or thought I deserved. I seethed, nursing my perceived grievances.

Until just now, it never occurred to me all the mixed messages I got from my parents. I remember being constantly told that I was the smartest, the best pianist, the best singer, the best whatever. (Never prettiest, mind you – a very Chinese omission on my parents’ parts, highlighting a big difference in what they valued versus what I valued). And yet, I also remember feeling as if I were never good enough.

I would bring home report cards, my parents would ignore all the A’s and zone in, typical Chinese style, on the B’s. When I protested that I performed better than all the people who had lesser grades, my parents would retort that they didn’t care about the people I was better than. They only cared about the people who were better than me. My parents claimed that they were only mad because they knew I could do better if I would just try.

I was lazy and fearful so I never went all out – even when I knew I could do well. My parents never seemed to be satisfied so why try? And if I was going to fail, I would rather leave myself an out, a way to save face. That if I had actually tried, I would’ve done fine. How heartbreaking if I had actually went all out and tried and also failed?

Lucky for me (or unlucky for my character, as the case may be), most subjects came easily to me. I was a quick reader, decent enough at math, an excellent sight reader in both piano and singing, and had a knack for becoming teacher’s pet. Plus, all my best friends were at the top of the class so I could always get their help if I didn’t want to think for myself. It was very handy. And if I felt jealous of their academic success, I told myself it was because they were smarter than me – something I had no control over. It couldn’t possibly be because they also studied and worked hard. I would mock their hard work in private. After all, if they were really smart, why would they have to study?

I rarely worked hard. I coasted through high school and into the hallowed halls of UCLA, where everyone was just as smart (if not smarter) than me. And then, I started failing. It never occurred to me that the reason why UCLA was a good school was because everyone was smart and that if I didn’t study or go to class, I would fail. And instead of realizing that perhaps I should, oh, I don’t know, study and attend lectures, I gave up and consigned myself to being just in the middle or bottom of the curve. I am not sure how I graduated.

I came up with all sorts of excuses.

I clung to a story my father used to tell about how when he was in college, he would make a bet with his friends to see who could get the lowest passing grade on a test. He would take the test until he was pretty sure he passed and then leave the rest of the test blank. He claimed that you actually would have to be smarter than the people who took the entire test because you had to know the material so well (and be entirely confident on that matter) in order to know exactly how many you got correct in order to get a passing grade. He used to brag about this, proof of his immense cleverness.

It only just occurred to me right this instant that my father was full of shit.

I prayed a lot of desperate prayers to help me pass tests or finish papers. I copied a lot of labs. (Oh yeah, I totally cheated and didn’t blink.) I pulled all-nighters skimming text books, other people’s notes (remember, I never attended class), and BS’ing my way through term papers. I scrambled hard and was always disappointed (and also relieved) when I barely passed a class. Each new quarter determined to do better.

I never learned. I never got better. I was never willing to put in the work.

I’m not sure when I started to realize that there were plenty of smart and talented people out there, that I was not the only one. I’m sure working in the real world helped a lot.

When I was working at an internet marketing company, my mentor, Mark Joyner, would often repeat that ideas were a dime a dozen and that often, the ideas weren’t even that original. What mattered was the execution. Mark would say constantly, “A mediocre plan brilliantly executed will always trump a brilliant plan mediocrely executed.”

It didn’t matter how great an idea was if you didn’t do anything about it. The people who succeeded were the people who took an idea and put it to work. Hard work.

This was completely refreshing to me because all my life, I heard my father rant about how Microsoft stole his brilliant ideas or that he originated popular sayings. (My father claimed he invented the Taiwanese phrase, “哇塞 (Wow)!” He said they would add, “你娘 (your mom)” after, implying it was a dirty phrase. He would forbid me from saying it.)

When I started working as a financial advisor, I remember one of the top producers telling me that he was an idiot. That he wasn’t really very smart and that there were plenty of financial advisors out there who were smarter than he was, but not as successful. He told me the reason he was successful was because 1) he relied on other experts to do the investing (eg: mutual funds) and 2) he worked harder than everyone else.

Like all my failures, I know I didn’t succeed at being a financial advisor because I wasn’t willing to put in the work. I wasn’t willing to put in the time to learn about the financial markets, about stocks and bonds and financial instruments, about the laws and rules and regulations. I wasn’t willing to put myself on the line and meet people for the express purpose of getting new clients and making appointments and doing proposals. I wanted all the perks but none of the work.

When American Idol first came out in 2002, I remember being astonished at how many people could sing – and not only that, sing well. Until then, I had always thought that I was someone special, a rare butterfly that was so unique in my amazing voice. Even in college, I was resentful that my voice was overlooked in favor of other people with less deserving voices. (The irony being that likely, other people felt the same way about me.) And now, there was a show on national television, that showed me just how “common” a good singing voice was. It was confusing.

A few years later, I started up voice lessons again and paid my own hard earned money for that privilege. And yet, week after week, I never improved. I never practiced at home. I was too embarrassed to sing at home and fail as I practiced – even in front of my own mother or by myself. So week after week, I plunked down $50 and sight-read the same piece, forgetting all the notes my teacher gave me.

I remember realizing that my mother would practice singing all the time, even in the car. That she had tapes she played in the car to practice her assigned pieces and do runs and voice exercises while driving. I remember being shocked that after years of practice, her voice, which I used to consider lesser than mine, was strong, beautiful, and clear. I remember how my father used to waltz in, astound us with the clarity of his singing and then leave it at that. He rarely practiced. I could tell he also used to think he was better than my mother.

I eventually quit my lessons because I knew I never practiced. I knew I didn’t want to sing as badly as I thought I did. It was too similar to my years of piano playing. I must have practiced because there is no way I could have memorized so many pieces for recitals and whatnot if I hadn’t, but I also know that I put in the minimum effort required. I could’ve been a brilliant pianist. I was an excellent sight-reader, had a good ear for melody, had relative pitch, but all of that was meaningless because I didn’t want to put in the work.

When I watch shows like So You Think You Can DanceProject Runway, or The Voice, I am no longer envious and more and more in awe. I am in awe of how much we humans can do when we really work hard and practice and put in the necessary apprenticeship. I think what helps for me, in these situations, is to see how much coaching and thinking and dedication go into these arts. It isn’t just singing or making something or reading a line. Sure, there is talent, but the talent is meaningless without the craft.

I think the beauty of all this reality TV and the internet is the slow realization that I am not special. I gladly relinquish my burden of uniqueness. I revel in the freedom that I am not a special snowflake. Why? Because I can also let go of my resentments. My seething indignation. My constant feeling that I was always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That I was always being robbed of my due.

Back in August, I went to back to back concerts of Justin Timberlake and Yo-Yo Ma. I found myself marveling at how much work they each must have put in to be the success they are today. How many hours of rehearsing, of memorizing music and dance moves, and not only doing it well, but with incredible precision night after night after night.

I realized to my shame, and somewhat great relief, that I was not willing to work hard at most things. I was not willing to do the work to be an amazing singer, or actor, or whatever.

I was a dilettante.

To be honest, I was pretty bummed. But another unexpectedly freeing thing came from this realization: there were things I was willing to work hard for – and I had already been working hard on them.

Thus far, only two things, but really, how much can a person split their focus anyway? What are they? Parenting and writing.

Somewhat anticlimatic information if you’ve slogged through 1800+ words to get to this point. Sorry about that. But very useful to me. 

My Language Is Not A Cool “Picture” For Your Ass

Today’s post is super short because I hate ranting for too long. And be assured, friends. I am doing you all a favor by cutting it short.

So, I really should be used to Chinese characters being used all over the place, most often, incorrectly and full of gibberish – especially on people’s bodies as permanent body “art,” but I digress. Even though butchering foreign languages and exoticizing “Oriental” words is commonplace on both sides of the Pacific, (eg: hilarious Chinese to English translations), this is still cultural appropriation. (Usually by some New Agey white dude spouting off pseudo-philosophical nonsense and passing it off as “Ancient Chinese wisdom.” Here’s some Ancient Chinese wisdom for you, “Shut your fucking pie hole, you douche.” I would say it in Chinese but my parents never taught me how to properly do the swears in Chinese. A terrible oversight on their part, in my opinion.)

I do realize that most people wouldn’t know the difference between crap Chinese characters and the Real Deal Holyfield, but FFS people, Chinese is an actual language which over a billion actual people read and write. Some of whom, LIVE IN THE GORRAM UNITED STATES. Now, not all of us can read or write Chinese with facility (mine is mediocre at best), but there also exists GOOGLE TRANSLATE as well as the fucking internet in general. Don’t be trying to seem all “zen” or whatever by throwing in random Chinese words in the mix.

Alright. I’m sick of hearing myself rant so in closing, I direct you to this blog, where Americans immortalize gibberish Chinese words on their bodies. It makes me feel better.

Happy Monday, people!

Pants on Fire

I have a general rule that I will not lie to my kids – even white lies, lies of convenience, or statements to make my life easier. I do teach my kids about God and Jesus, so depending on your philosophical bent, that may or may not count as a lie. But since I do believe in God and Jesus, at least I am not technically lying to the kids (or at least, intentionally). The main reason I don’t, even when it would make my life considerably better, is because it breaks trust. And once my kids catch me in a lie (and they will!), they will start questioning everything I have ever told them in the past because hey, if I lied about this, what was stopping me from lying to them about that?

I even include Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. (At least it cuts down on fictional gifts I have to purchase!) I know. I’m such a killjoy. But Santa is an old white dude who rewards you for being good on Jesus’s birthday – and it sounds a lot like the stereotypical view of who God is – so no thanks! Now, my kids know ABOUT Santa. But they just think he’s in a costume. Like Spiderman. Plus, it is much easier to explain all the Santas that crop up during Christmas time.

In fact, not only do I try not to lie to my children, I try not to lie in general. After all, what’s the point of telling my kids not to lie, not lying to my kids, etc., if they just hear me telling people lies (white or otherwise) just to make my life easier? Of course, I have no problem lying via omission. For instance, someone brings a food that is not delicious. I won’t say that the food is yummy. But I will thank them for bringing the food or comment on the plate that the food is on, or whatever. I will try to say true things in as kind a way as possible without outright lying. Hopefully, my kids will absorb this lesson without me having to explicitly tell them not to lie. Aren’t the most important lessons in life learned this way?

I find that the temptation to lie is similar to the temptation to deflect all the questions my kids have about their bodies or stuff in general. I am very honest with the kids about their body parts and I have no qualms about Hapa Papa or my nakedness around the kids. This, of course, leads to some very awkward and hilarious conversations. I’ve had to explain to Cookie Monster why his penis gets big, what pubic hair is, what a vagina is, etc. My reward for all my non-euphamizing are these types of conversations (FB friends will recognize a good many of these stories):

1) Cookie Monster: Papa has a penis and a gagina! 
Hapa Papa: Papa just has a penis.
Cookie MonsterGamera has a gagina!
Hapa Papa: Yes, Gamera has a gagina. Cookie Monster has a penis.
Cookie Monster: Papa has a penis and a gagina! HAHAHAHAAHAHAH!

2) After a month or so, we finally figured out why Cookie Monster thought Hapa Papa had a vagina and a penis. He thought the pubic hair was the vagina. He also pointed at Hapa Papa’s face and said, “Gina face! Gina mouth!”

3) Gamera: My penis hurts, Mom. 
Me: You don’t have a penis, honey. You have a vagina. 
Gamera: My ‘gina hurts, Mom. My penis fell off.

Anyway, this post isn’t to make you feel bad or judged if you do teach your kids about Santa or The Easter Bunny or even if you tell your kids or other people white lies. This is just my personal policy. I think it comes from my traumatic upbringing of constantly swallowing my father’s numerous lies in addition to reinforcing his lies with lies of our own (many at my mother’s behest). My father wasn’t even a very good liar – that’s how insulting he was. He didn’t even think enough of us to lie properly and NOT get caught. He just thought we were too stupid to catch him.

Of course, telling the truth is not the same as being blunt or using the truth to bludgeon people. (Although, incredibly tempting.) I suppose the key to this is to tell the truth in love. (Often, an incredibly difficult task.) It helps that I don’t really have a good filter when I talk to people so I am usually a little too honest in general. It also helps that many of my friends also consciously choose not to lie to their kids so we can support one another. I’m curious. Do you lie to your kids? If so, what do you lie to your kids about? Tell me in the comments.

The Gatekeepers of Heaven

As I’ve gotten older and more life experience (as well as met more people with different life experiences), I’ve become more and more liberal in my theology and thinking. (Oh gracious, I’ve become more and more hippie-like and this disturbs me.)

I feel as if there are fewer and fewer lines of distinction on what it means to live a “Godly” life. Evangelical Christians would have you believe that you have to do XYZ and look a certain way before you are “Saved” but really, I think that’s just bullshit. That’s just the new Pharasaical order.

If you think about it and consider the patriarchs of the Christian/Jewish faith and their lives, they really don’t fit into the nebulous “Christian standards” very neatly. Or at all.

For instance, what about Abraham? He married his SISTER. Ok, HALF-sister, but still. EW. He whored her out repeatedly to other kings (I don’t believe for a second that she always remained untouched). On top of that, he had a concubine because his wife was barren.

What about Lot and his daughters getting him drunk and impregnating them? That’s right. daughtERS. Plural. How drunk do you have to be to not realize you’re having sex with your DAUGHTERS?

What about Israel (aka: Jacob)? He had two official wives and at least two concubines and at least thirteen children (of course, we only know the names of his twelve sons and the one daughter who was raped).

Or Judah, Jacob’s son? He visits a prostitute – who turns out to be his widowed daughter-in-law, by the way – and impregnates her. When he tries to turn her out for being a whore (hypocritical, much?), she sends him proof that it was he who did the whoring.

What about Joseph? He married an Egyptian and had two sons and I’m pretty sure they weren’t brought up in his religion, etc.

Or King David? With his hundreds of wives and concubines, he commits adultery and murder. He may have been a great artist and a man after God’s own heart, but he sure messed up his kids and condoned the rape of his daughter. (Well, perhaps condone is too harsh of a word. But definitely doesn’t do a damn thing about it.)

Or Paul? He told people that it was better to be a eunuch for the Kingdom of God than to be married because then you could devote passionately to the gospel. Somehow, I have a feeling that Christianity would’ve died out if that were the case.

Please note, I am only bringing up the “faithful” in a long line of “faithful” servants. They were deeply flawed human beings – and yet, God still spoke to them and favored them. They were polygamous, murderers, incestuous, adulterers, and really, just a product of their times.

And yet, Christians constantly like to draw boundaries and lines of who belongs and who doesn’t. Okay. Let’s be fair. This is not a problem or distinction known only to Christians. This is a human problem.

If I am honest with myself, I, too, have my own ideas of who gets to be a “Christian” or not. For instance, I have a hard time believing that racists, sexists, misogynists, and hateful people can be “True” Christians. Or really, I have a hard time believing many of the vaunted Biblical heroes would be considered “Christian” by today’s standards. They were some deeply troubled and fucked up people.

John the Prophet? CERTIFIABLY INSANE. I mean, Revelations is one crazy work of fiction, right?

My point isn’t to nitpick people and be the Heaven Police. It is merely to say that God seems to cast a wider net than we do. Case in point: the parable of the vineyard workers.

Here’s the tl;dr version. An owner of a vineyard goes out at 6am in the morning to find workers at the local Home Depot. He picks up a bunch of folks and sets them to working, telling them he’ll pay the full day’s wage at the end of the day. He goes back to Home Depot at 9am, noon, 3pm and again at 5pm. At 6pm, the end of the day, he lines up everyone and starts paying the folks he hired at 5pm. He gives them the full day’s wages. So, the people hired at 6am fully expect to get paid their wages and then some. But when it comes to their turn, they get paid the same full day’s wages. The 6am (and perhaps the 9am workers, too) start grumbling about how it was completely unfair. They should have gotten more wages. What the heck? Was this guy a commie?

The owner gets wind of the complaints and asks the 6am workers, “Hey, did I neglect our agreement? Did you not agree to work the full day for this set amount of wages? Did you not think that was fair at 6am? Then what’s it to you if I am generous and choose to pay the later workers the same amount?”

I love that parable. If not because really, who are we to complain if God is generous?

It’s because we feel entitled to certain blessings and good things and “wages” that we start drawing lines around who deserves what and why. But in reality, who the fuck are we to decide who gets in and out of Heaven? When did God say we were the gatekeepers? And who is to say that God isn’t being generous with the wages in the first place? When did we become so fucking awesome? The appropriate response would be gratitude.

I also love it because clearly, I’m also on the benefiting side of the “last minute” workers – and let’s face it, all they really do is show up for an hour – if even that! It’s awesome. To receive unexpected and undeserved blessings. (That’s what I consider privilege: like, what sex/class/race/orientation/ability/etc. that I’m born into.) The appropriate response, again, would be gratitude.

Anyhow, my point really is that God lets in who He wants to let in and that culture is constantly changing. The only true criteria seems to be you have to be human (this is not to be species-ist) and a sinner. There is no way we would let in Abraham into the holy Church circles as he was. I mean, come on! What we consider appropriate changes with time. Are we wrong? Do we have to go back to Old Testament times? When if a woman was raped, she was given to the rapist as a wife and all the guy had to do was pay a donkey?

I am SO thankful that I do not live in Biblical times. Or any other time other than now. I am also deeply grateful that the pillars of faith were sometimes execrable human beings. That means I may have a chance at Heaven, too.

But We Already Read an Asian Book

At our Book Club meeting tonight, a woman said something that I can’t seem to shake off. Now, before I get into it, please understand that I’m not mad at this woman herself. I’m annoyed at the comment she made. Also – I don’t think she is any more or less prejudiced than I am and people in general. She is funny, a wonderful human being, and I really do love her. I don’t think the less of her and will continue to enjoy her company.

Ok. So enough disclaiming.

Tonight, we were throwing out books to consider reading for the second half of 2014. We all contributed several selections and I mentioned the book, When My Name Was Keoko, from my last post. “It’s about two Korean kids during WWII and the Japanese occupation of Korea,” I said.

“But we already read an Asian book!” my friend replied.

In shock, I exclaimed, “What? We’ve read hundreds of books about white people and I’ve never complained! But we can’t read two books with Asians in it?” I tried to keep my voice light and easy. Teasing. I wasn’t really mad – but I also wanted to get my point across.

“I read stories about white people all the time! I’m surrounded by white people! Hapa Papa’s half white! I don’t complain! Sheesh! But we can’t read more than one book about Asians? I also recommended a book where the main character is half black. Is that too many books about colored people?” We all laugh at this.

Realizing the pickle she got herself into, but also joking along, my friend says, “Well, we did read The Help a few years ago, so I think we’re okay.”

“Besides, it’s about the Japanese occupation of Korea during WWII. I never knew about that, did you?”

Another woman said, “No, I didn’t. That sounds interesting.”

“Well, I’m sick of reading about WWII, too,” muttered my friend.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “I’m sick of reading about the Holocaust.” (We have read a LOT of books about the Holocaust in recent years.)

From there, we moved the conversation along. The whole time, no one was offended and there really was a lot of laughter and gentle poking fun. And to be fair, this woman has recommended several books with people of color in the past. But the incident still bothers me because it is indicative of our culture at large.

As much as I appreciate Asian American History month or Black History month, I often feel as if it lets folks off the hook. Like, “Oh, we have a separate month where it’s an anomaly to talk about people of color. But when that blip is over, we can go back to our regularly scheduled programming and talk about real people and real stories. You know, about white people.”

Stories about people who are not white should not be relegated to some “colored” or “very special episode” ghetto. Just because we’ve heard one “Asian” story doesn’t mean that we’re done with our quota for the year. I mean, for crying out loud. How many times have we heard the good girl meets bad boy story? Like, at least a million times. No one is claiming that we shouldn’t have any more of those. (Although, maybe we should.)

Look. Are white people’s imaginations so utterly pathetic that they can’t possibly imagine identifying with a character that is not the same race as them? I mean, millions of black, brown, red, and yellow folks do every single fucking day. Just because we’ve had more practice doesn’t mean our imaginations wouldn’t like a break now and then.

I know we’re always given complete bullshit marketing answers about how white people don’t consume movies/books/shows with POC main characters. I get that companies are in the business to make money. But seriously? Aren’t there billions of non-white people in the world? Have some gumption, story tellers. PLEASE.

In the meantime, I will go out of my way to actively buy and purchase stories with people of color. It’s the least I could do.