Self-Loathing

Wet. Weird. Warm. Your first kiss.

Mocha almond fudge. But it used to be cookie dough.

Ms. Kitagawa. Dolphins in Meadows. Kindergarden.

I know you. I’ve known you. But I don’t love you.

Every crook every cranny.

Broken skin in your folds.

Beauty marks on ankles.

Though you thought were moles.

Growth marks still mar your upper thigh.

Cold fingers and toes at night.

White hair hidden beneath.

Deep cries seeped past skin deep.

I’ve seen you grow. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.

I’ve known you your whole life and yet still getting to know you.

You’re still alive and evolving and that’s good right?

You’ve changed and keep changing, and yet I’m still waiting.

Waiting for that something within you.

Waiting for that something to love you.

There are times when I’m sick of you. To be with you and never have a break from you. I don’t want to be co-dependent from you, but it can’t be helped. You breathe in and my lungs are filled. You breathe out and my chest sinks. You fear and my heart races, you’re sad and I cry.

I know I should love you. I know you’re great. I’m proud of you, I swear, I am.

But it’s strange that I just can’t love you. But is that true? That I’m not able to? Or is it really because I don’t want to and I’m not willing to?

It’s not a question. It’s not like I don’t know. I know.

It’s actually because I hate you.

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I’M STRONGER THAN I THINK

So, I botched another audition … 😦

Before any audition, I always kinda downplay any excitement or gratitude regarding the opportunity. Thoughts of — oh this is just protocol, it’s a long shot, they already booked someone, you’re not going to get it, you have no credits, you have no experience, they don’t know you … help soften the blow when I actually don’t hear back from casting directors. Call it self preservation, but it’s gotten me through 7 years of constant neglect and false hope from Hollywood.

At least I thought so anyways. I didn’t realize the longstanding detrimental repercussions to my sense of self worth and self awareness.

So there’s two parts of me: 1. the intellectual, measurable, on paper part of me, and 2. the emotional, can’t put my finger on it but can feel it part of me. I’ve realized recently that there’s a huge gap between the two. What I know and understand about myself isn’t equivalent to how I feel about myself.

Most of the time, I don’t like myself. A lot of the time, I feel I have nothing to offer to this world and my life is meaningless. I have no talent, I am ugly and stupid and there’s a ton of people smarter, prettier, nicer, anything-er than me. I am nothing.

This is the type of thinking that is the result of all my “self preservation”.  In the name of protecting myself and my sensitive ego, talking myself down from any opportunity, I am little by little chipping at any sense of self worth and self confidence I may have had.

And at the most recent audition, this self preservation led to self sabotage. I came in the room not confident, kept fumbling over my lines, and worried that that cuter, younger, smarter, more talented girl in the waiting room is going to kill it and I’m the old hack that never stood a chance. This thought literally manifested into my performance where I completely looked like a noob. After my performance, the director literally said, “Awww you’re so cute.” Ugh, KISS OF DEATH. “Awww you’re so cute” is subtext for “you can’t act, but hey consolation is you cute.” The casting associate asked, “how long you’ve been in LA for?” I meekly replied, 7 years, and his eyebrows arched which translated to: “you’ve been in LA for that long and you still can’t act?!” To add salt to the wound, that cute girl in the waiting room got a callback. I did not.

Look, I know it’s probably not as bad as I have described it. I AM being dramatic, but I am showing how far this negative thinking can go for me. It destroys me and its incessant voice is on loop ALL THE FUCKING TIME. To the point that it blinds me from the intellectual part of me.

On paper, through class time and the observations of my peers, I know I have talent. I know I’m good and have good instincts. I’m relatable, personable, intelligent and inspiring. It’s fun to watch me. And yet I’m so blind to these facts that when someone else, even a stranger, recognizes these features about me, I’m always so … SURPRISED.

This year it’s happened three times already. The first time was when I booked a lead role in This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing. I wrote about the experience in a previous post.  I was surprised that the director and co director trusted me to play a character, the most difficult character to convey, a character I thought very much unlike me, a character I had a lot of trouble understanding and relating, and yet … I killed it. I never even had the capacity to think that that was even a possibility of booking a lead role let alone do it well. They saw something in me that I wasn’t even aware was there.

The second time this happened was last month. I’ve been volunteering at a youth leadership camp for years and one of the traditions at the camp is for two staff members to do a two-person scripted scene. A scene that addresses the existential question of a life worth saving. Heavy stuff, a dramatic piece that I’ve always been intimidated by and never really had the confidence to do it. It was suggested that one of the counselors, a New York theatre graduate, super talented and so funny, should be one of the characters. But when this opportunity was brought to her, she said she would only do the scene if I did it with her … I was shocked. What???! Someone I respected as an actor and admired for her work and thoughtfulness wanted to work with uncombed, unpolished, rough around the edges me? She cray. She’s stupid. WTF? …Wow, once she said that, the idea appealed to me, her confidence in me gave me confidence and guess what? We killed it.

one rope patrick meyers

And then the third time happened yesterday. I took a spin class for the first time. I had no idea what it entailed, I had no idea how to adjust my bike and fit it to my strength, I had no idea I would sweat that much! I wanted to quit, I wanted to stop, I wanted to yell at the instructor to stop yelling at me. But then he said, “YOU’RE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK!” And he kept saying that along rock music I’ve heard on Guitar Hero. My knees felt weird and weak, there was too much resistant, I felt like I was pedaling against mud, against a wall, it felt hopeless for a good 2/3 of the class. But that instructor guy said it again, “YOU’RE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK!” So I kept moving my feet, pushing myself, pushing my legs and knees and eventually, I kept up and sped up.

So what have I learned from all this? That intellectual part of me needs to shout louder and longer for my emotional part of me to feel its truth. For its truth to really resonate within myself and manifest itself into my best self. Instead of surrounding my mind with negative thoughts in the name of self preservation, I must shout what I know about myself in the name of BEST SELF preservation. 😀

Also, I think I will be talking to my therapist to figure out a plan of action to sustain and maintain positive thinking and mental reinforcements of myself for myself and with myself. Wish me luck! ❤

 

 

 

 

Dim


I miss you. 
I think of you.
Even though I shouldn’t.
Even though I try so hard to forget. 
I still don’t get it. 
And I know I felt it.
It was real right?
Or was my mind so desperate to be loved? 
That it conjured up a delusion to satisfy an unfed hope. 
A false hope in which the passing of time proves that reality will never match what was desired.

I’m unlovable. 
He doesn’t want me.
He moved on. 
And I should too.
I need to.

Because if I don’t,
my light that once shined bright
is waning. 
is dying.
will be gone.

Broken


Why do the girls cry over the boys that leave them?

Why do the girls tend to their broken hearts whilst boys avoid their broken egos?

Why do the girls grasp at air and the boys run and never look back?

Why is there such a gap between them filled with emptiness, loneliness and sadness?

Everyone is broken.

Why do we continue to live while broken?

Half hazard pieces put together. A passable front, a vulnerable center.

Why do we pretend just to go through the faulty cycle again and again and again?

False hope brings an inescapable hurt.

Save us all.

Unanswered Questions

First off, I just want to say I’m ok.

Secondly, I’m not ok.

Anthony Bourdain’s suicide really threw me into a melancholy funk.

Lately I’ve been reevaluating my Why. Through Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk and his book, Start With Why, I learned that if I get clear with my Why — the bigger picture, the reason I get up the morning, it makes setbacks, challenges and failures easier to stomach. Also with the big picture clear, that last failure isn’t viewed as debilitating but as a necessary step closer to achieving the dream. Inspiring stuff right?

After a lot of self reflection, I realized that my Why was: To tell my story so that I can connect with others at a human level, regardless of sex, religion, background, etc. Carl Rogers, an American psychologist said, “What is most personal, is most universal.” Representation matters! My last blog post explains how this rang true for me. 

Looking back at my whole creative journey thus far, I can confidently say I’ve really lived out the pursuit of my Why. As an actor, I use myself and my personal experience to connect to characters and bring them to life. As a writer, I’m writing my own stories unapologetically via scripts, essays, novels. As a storyteller, I’m sharing my experiences live with others. I was connecting to so many different groups, to so many different people. I felt seen, heard, understood.

And then Bourdain dies.

Here was a guy that was MY WHY manifested! He was literally going around the world and sitting in people’s kitchens swapping stories and connecting with diverse individuals. Watching Parts Unknown, you can’t keep count how many times he says, “I’m so happy.”  Here was a guy that was recognized and rewarded in every aspect of his life. And yet, he willingly ended it.

His death reiterated that happiness and fulfillment can’t be found externally, but must be found within. And so I was deeply saddened for Bourdain because how alone he must’ve felt. How he just couldn’t find lasting internal happiness. And how perhaps, he must’ve felt like an asshole, because out of everyone, he should’ve been happy right?

Obviously I don’t know Bourdain, so really all these conjectures are projections of my own preoccupations. Because if it happened to him, who is to say it won’t happen to us. To me.

So what if I’m telling my stories. So what if for that one brief moment, someone heard me saw me understood me. It wasn’t lasting. In between those very brief fleeting moments, long dull aches of hopelessness fill the gaps. Long intervals of failures, feelings of emptiness, indifference and abandonment fill most of my waking life.

I’m incredibly conflicted. My Why has carried me through these past 7 years in the pursuit of creative fulfillment. A desire that determined the course of my adult life thus far. A desire that is still really strong. But as more woke as I get, as more obstacles stand in my way, as more shit hits the fan in this crazy political climate we live in, I’m filled with a sense of  … what is the fucking point.

How do I become part of a system that is so rigged against me without compromising who I am?

But also it gets more complicated than that …

Is it worth to keep trying at the cost of my personal life?

Do I need to be an artist? Do I need to make money as an artist? Do I even need to be in LA? I DON’T KNOW. I have no answers. I’m still thinking. I’m still living. I still wake up and get up and do. But it’s with great uncertainty and dread. I’m ok but I’m not ok as well.

bourdainnn-1528750986

Memorial for Bourdain in front of his restaurant, Les Halles.

 

 

Voices

There’s this buzz. This bug. This nasty gnat nagging in my ear as rapid harsh whispers strike me every waking second of my being. Words I can’t decipher, but dark competing clouds I can picture. Overwhelming, overlapping, overrunning, running over each other until they reach me.

Shapeless it takes shape to grasp and to grab me. Fingers so slender, palms so opened and yet so heavily pressed against my chest. Keeping me down, splayed on the ground. My lungs popped and punctured as violent hands who had once lured me like an inviting blanket, to swaddle me, now squeezes and suffocates me.

My mind is full. My eyes dim. Everything is blurry and heavy. I can’t shut it up. I can’t stop it. A chokehold takes hold. And I stop. I don’t struggle. It’s hopeless. I’m hopeless. It’s useless. I’m useless. At least there’s no pain. Just numb dumb dullness.

But a dark shadow, an evil sentiment is felt with every inch of what is left of me and my mind and my body. My useless body. Just a body, anybody, no body, nobody.

Dear Donald Glover

Hi. I don’t know if you remember me, but we briefly met on October 2, 2012. It was my birthday and I was celebrating it with a few friends at Blind Barber. We saw a guy in the corner that looked like you, but we weren’t sure. My friend Krista was insistent that it was you. My friend Ana and I thought your nose looked too big to be yours. Krista won and wanted to approach you. I was like, oh shit. I want to get in on this if it really was to be you. But I was also so in my head worrying if it wasn’t you and if we were gonna offend or flatter a random black guy.  We approached you timidly and Krista did all the talking, “We’re fans.” And OH MY GOD, you smiled and it WAS YOU! You said thanks and we went on our merry way and I couldn’t stop telling people Childish Gambino was at my birthday party. #coachella2012 #asiangirlseverywhereucla

ANYWAYS, sorry. Wtf is my point. To be honest, I was a fan then, but after watching Atlanta and reading up on the analysis and layers of each episode, I am just really really GRATEFUL to you now. To the point that I felt compelled to write you this letter. Of course it’s more to process and articulate my complicated relationship with American television, but also to acknowledge my personal growth from such an influential and ubiquitous medium, with your show having the most unexpected profound effect on me.

Both parents worked so I grew up on television. Television was the easiest way for me to understand the world. But at an early age, I noticed a huge disconnect between my reality and what I saw on screen. First off everyone on television was WHITE. Had normal names. Ate American food. Second, I revered everyone I saw on the screen. Wanted a Full House family. Crushed on Zach Morris. Harrison Ford was my hero. At such a young age, I never expected my fandom would lead to harmful effects on my mental psyche.

But it did. The big difference that stared in my face, myself. My non-whiteness. As much as I loved the white people on television, as much as I hated my Vietnamese self. My Vietnamese name. The Vietnamese food I had to eat at home. I avoided anything remotely Vietnamese to the point that as an adult, I never crave Vietnamese food. NEVER. NOT EVEN PHO. (I crave burritos though, carne asada all day).

This self hate perpetuated a lack of self-confidence, a constant feeling of, I’m just not good enough. And this toxic voice was on loop even into adulthood. Ironically (or maybe obviously?) I grew up to be an actor. As of right now, an un-bookable actor. 😦 With the lack of opportunities for my look, coupled with the extreme difficulty of just breaking in the industry, every failed audition only verified what I already thought of myself — I suck. I’m not good enough. I don’t belong here.

And then Aziz’s Master of None came out. Oh shit. Here was something that told a similar story to mine. And it was on Netflix! The accessibility, the exposure, the camaraderie I felt for similar experiences. I remember thinking, this is it! They get me! They see me! They’re speaking my language! 😀

And then I saw Atlanta. And wtf. Where I thought Master of None did it for me, your show surpassed it in such a deep and meaningful way. Donald, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but your show is very black. I hear it’s also very Atlanta. I’ve never been. I’m also not black at all. (Actually I wanted to be black too when younger. To me, black people have a sense of anti-establishment and self assurance that me, a scrawny pushover rule follower severely lacked). But where Master of None told me a story I already knew, Atlanta affected me in a way that was transformative. o_O

Because your show is sooo specific and sooo ethnocentric and yet someone like me can relate to it, even more so than to Master of None, it made me realize that it’s not only ok to tell one’s story (a story not to be compromised and watered down to pander to a wider audience), it’s NECESSARY to tell one’s story. Because Donald, for the first time ever, Atlanta made me feel proud to be myself and to tell my story unapologetically.

So, thanks. Thank you so much.

❤ Thi

P.S. Yo Donald, below is a pic of my friends and me that night at Blind Barber. It was 90s hip hop Tuesdays, I think. Do we look familiar? I’m the second from the left. Krista is first, then me, Ana and Annie.

blind barber

 

 

Sense

Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

Five. So limited. So finite. Fuck it.

Take away sight. No view of light. But light radiates with warmth. Heat waves. Do you feel that? Yes. New sense.

Take away hearing. Boom blast blah. Sounds resound no more. But leaves a soft vibration, shakes my core. I feel that. Yes. New sense.

Take away touch. Soft rough smooth touch. Tips rubbed off fingertips. But I still feel. Emotionally. Yes. New sense.

Take away smell. Sweet rose. Pungent. Conjures a striking nostalgic memory. Memories mentally flood. Strong. Yes. New sense.

Take away taste. Salty skin, sweet kisses. Spicy. No love for food. But love for him. Yes. New sense.

But love makes no sense and yet it’s not senseless.

Everything heightens, hearts of hearts, highs of highs, and oh. So low so lowest of lows. That to feel the frugality of the thin outer skin protecting the fragility of the wretched heart, it’s easy to feel good, but it feels so good to feel deep and down too. Because I can feel everything. I can sense everything. Breakups break open the limited five senses into being.


And then time happens. I lose all sense of it. Until one day, I’m numb.

SOS

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

It used to burn. Burn bright, emitting incandescent, iridescent light. All the colors of the rainbow, it flickered, it’s fickle, it was alive.

It was, anyways.

Sun up sun down, doors open doors close. I speak but there’s no sound. The walls close in, I push back. I keep pushing back. Push. Push. Push. The wall looms over, rigid, unyielding, monolithic. Its plaster thick, prolific, sadistic. It surrounds me. Bounds me. Tight. Crushes me, suffocates me and shuts out that evanescent light.

I can’t breathe.

So what? What is the point. Point the gun at me because modernity has crushed my soul, my spirit, my waning light. It is replaced by that harsh cold florescent light. A black mirror reflected refracted, cracked, distracted. Everyone is around, but they’re not physically here. They can’t hear. They can’t see.

I’m waiting.

Eyes shut tight, waiting for the inevitable end. The black deep dark abyss gapes wide with no ends. My spirit weakens as it teeters over the edge. She waits for someone to talk her off of that precarious ledge.

It’s not too late.

A familiar face. A twinkle in the eye. A friend. A HUG. Real, tight, surrounds me, bounds me, and I can’t breathe. But this is different. This is real. I feel. I almost don’t believe it. It’s surreal. Arms encircle, wrap and hold me tight. Chest to chest, there’s emanating radiating warmth that ignites. Resurrected! Yes! It’s in sight! Rejuvenated! Yes! Seeping light! Elevated! Yes! Above great heights!

Yes! My spirit glows once again.

Hey There Lonely Girl


By herself. All alone. Pink pants, stressed shirt. She’s stylish, self conscious. Lips colored with faint fig chapstick, eyeliner lines thin, makeup at a minimum. Red wires wrap her torso, she’s encased in music that’s turned down low. Below the Saturday streets, she waits for the train to take her where her eyes go. She looks up and through the tunnel into the great beyond. Great abyss, great darkness interrupted intermittent with flashing, florescent neon colored lights. Saturday night. Train’s faint light finally in sight. Doors open. Out and in out and in. Stop. And go Stop. And go. But the girl sits. By herself. All alone. Two seats to her one self. She doesn’t look down, she doesn’t look sad. She looks interesting. She looks like she has something to say. But she sits on the outskirts with the window seat beside her empty. There’s no one to talk to. So her mouth is closed as her body encloses that seat empty. She looks beyond it. Beyond her window reflection. Black tunnel, black backdrop, blackness reflected back on those burning bright eyes.