To Fadwa

Here I was sifting through these real responses to the eleventh blog post prompt thinking what else do I have in common with these guys besides class , and then I found a gem that reflected a few of my own thoughts and personal experiences. (If you noticed the kitten in my imovie you know where this is going) My Godmother recently took in a stray kitten that would always be roaming around outside her house, and named him Expo. (short for exploration, exposition, or something to that effect) When I was shooting my imovie for the final project, I was so anxious regarding what to film, and how, since I hadn’t used a video camera for a few years. As I was developing my message, I wondered frantically, what could embody curiosity? Then it hit me, of course!! It was the same snowy morning I shot the other clips, and I was jittery since it was Saturday. I walked over to my Godmother’s house to ask her (with a straight face) if I could film her kitten just walking around. To my surprise and relief, she let me.

Before I go on, (I know you’re on the edge of your seat lol) there’s some context you should know right meow, in case I forget. When I was very young, young enough to only know this from pictures and stories, My family had two cats named Henry and Kiki (key-key). Kiki died before I was old enough to have a theory of mind, or thereabouts, but Henry was alive long enough to give me a lasting funny story. One morning I awoke to a strange mewling sound coming from downstairs. I got up, surprised the sound hadn’t woken up anyone else, and went to investigate. (smart move right?) When I got to the bottom of the stairs I saw Henry making muffled purr/mewls, and found a particular object in his mouth. He proudly presented to me a freshly caught, still twitching, mouse that I proceeded to take from him (for some reason). At this point my mother was coming downstairs so I showed her what Henry had so kindly given me. The face she made confused me then (cuz I was like, yo what should I do with this?), but now it just cracks me up. She ironically found a small rug in the shape of a cat to wrap it in, and put it in the garbage. It was my sister’s favorite rug at the time (anyone else like rugs?) so she probably remembers this too. Henry died soon or years after that, I don’t remember. I found him another morning motionless, but his eyes reflected the light filtering in from the morning like he was just relaxing. We buried him in our backyard. I forgot to mention we got a dog while Henry was still alive. Whenever we left to go somewhere, leaving them alone together, when we got back home they would be having some comical confrontation. Henry would bat at Bella’s nose, while retreating under a chair. She was never aggressive towards him, just curious.

While I was filming Expo, he was wary at first, but this was my second time hanging (in there) with him so he warmed up pretty quick. He did nibble my fingers and grab at my hand, which kinda put me on edge at first, but I warmed up to it throughout that experience. I stopped taking the assignment as seriously as I had earlier that morning, and started having fun with my new buddy Expo. Thank you for bringing back these memories.

Response to Ebenezer (David’s Post)

Although I cannot ever fully understand what it’s like to be in your shoes, your post really hit home. Coming from a mixed background, I do sometimes struggle with my identity. I father is Italian and my mother is Ecuadorian and Spanish. Despite this fact, I grew up pretty ‘”ethnically neutral”. I grew up only speaking English even though with my grandparents begging me to learn the languages and growing up in a predominantly mixed area (Queens, New York). My family has a running joke that the only thing Italian about me is my first name and the only Spanish thing about me is my last night. After living almost two decades, my biggest regret and my biggest struggle were never embracing where I come from. Like you, I do embrace who I am through God. Although I don’t know much about what it means to be Spanish or Italian, I know what it means to believe in God (this is something that I feel I learned through my culture.) Catholicism has always and will always play a pinnacle role in life, and I always turn to it when I feel lost. Sometimes I feel like the only thing I know about myself is that I am Catholic. I also learn through cooking. Food is huge in both cultures (at least in my family). My father has recipe books from his grandmother and aunts from Naples, and my mom learned everything she knows about cooking from her mother.  Through this, I was able to build a bond, not like those my fluent speaking cousins could with my grandparents. I was also indirectly able to connect to my roots through cooking whether it be from making sauce and mozzarella, or to cooking pernil. These two things have been my passion and my doorway to who the stories of my past. Through these things, I know that I can find comfort and rest easy knowing who I am. Very well said, David.

Where Do I Belong? @David

Dear David,
As I read your post, I relate so much! I can’t even describe the excitement I felt when I was going Back to Bangladesh (BD). Similar to yours.  Yes, I am finally going back! It was four years since we’ve been back. So my family and I went back to BD in 2010 for the summer. I thought I could play with my cousins in the countryside from morning until dusk just like we used to before I left. We even played in our houses after dark. The fun never stopped. We could play hide and seek among the trees, play hopscotch in front of our houses, and tell stories. A lot can change in four years so I’ve learned. When I went back it was not like that. Besides not playing outside much anymore, everyone changed. The environment changed drastically too. To this day, I want to go back to the way things used to be. A lot of people say they’re too American for their country but too foreign for America. I don’t have that experience so I feel left out when people say that. I am not American enough for the people back home. They expected and wanted me to be every American stereotype for them to marvel at. Probably what they saw as foreigners in Bangladeshi movies. I mean, first of all, I came in wearing traditional clothes. I was not accepted by my family there because I wasn’t “American enough.” This shocked me because I was once very much a part of the social fabric as much as anyone else. I thought we were inseparable. I was one of them, not anymore. Come to think of it, it was one of the very few times and places in my life that I truly belonged. In America, I’m not American enough apparently. I mean I’m not accepted as completely American. All this tension begs the questions: what is my Real identity? What is my Real belonging? You might say both but it seems like neither wants me.

In Response to Jasmine

I never actually thought about writing about experiences where I stuck out, so I found it very interesting that you used your past experiences as a description of not fitting into a category. It reminds me of when I would be that one kid at lunch reading a book instead of talking or playing with my friends. Or liking math when everyone else hated it and couldn’t understand. I never really fit in either with other kids at my elementary school, it’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Your blog post also mentions living in New York City and so I think about all the times where I had to stay out of the state or in another country. And sure a change of scenery is nice but after a few days I just miss the sound of city traffic or the sound of the train passing by and halting my conversation. Some things you just get used to and when they’re gone you feel out of place, or at least that’s how I feel.

reply to MY president

“I think people are way too focused on labels.

“Are you introverted or Extroverted?” “

Hey Seb. You had a really good post that was similar to mine (this is why I “voted” for you). I also do not understand why people are so focused on labels and think people only belong to one. As a young girl from an iconic taco commercial once asked “why not both?” Like Pruthvi replied to my post, first we are human beings and not our ethnicities or religions. If we stopped labeling each other it would be easier to do so many things. Wherever you go you might not belong. You might be too American for the Albanians or too Albanian for the Americans, but both these identities belong to you.

Response to Anton’s Post

Hey Anton! I wanted to say that I really enjoyed your post and thought it was fascinating on how you see life from different perspectives. Before last year, the furthest I’ve ever been was Vermont, and here you are traveling the world before your own eyes. It’s amazing to gain all these perspectives, but I can see why it can be hard to fit into one group of people. It is really commendable to how you have accepted that you are different and you use that to your advantage rather than let it bring you down. It’s also great to see how hungry you are for more knowledge instead of being content with all the information you have gathered thus far. I agree with you that the Real is something that will always change as we learn more and more about what it truly means to grasp this concept, but I believe the Real can be impossible for some depending on their mindset. For me, I decided to let go of that and rather go for experiences, but even they can be out of your control, as shown by my post/novel. There’s a saying that goes something like “Though I don’t understand the meaning of love, I do not mind if I die trying” (That may or may not be a Maroon 5 reference). We may never understand that Real, but it’s okay if we die trying to achieve it because it is the journey that matters, as Justin so eloquently put it. I really hope you continue to learn more about the world and that it one day becomes your oyster, if it hasn’t already.

In Response to Ivan…

“Every time I was able to perform or improve my skill I felt like I was a part of something greater, like I was destined to do something with this knowledge I have, but just as it reached its peak, something happened and it had to end.”

I relate to this feeling on innumerable levels. Because I am an artist, I know that feeling of being invincible whenever I’m on stage. The moment I step away, the moment the curtain closes, the moment the lights turn off I feel so lost.

Ever since you fell in love with the music
You find a way to express what you feel
But the moment that you get away from the mic, you don’t know what you doing

Yes, that is another NF reference. No, I’m not sorry.

It’s crazy how I feel like I’m levitating whenever I’m performing, only to be burdened by the weight of the world every time it’s over. I’ve always wondered why. Perhaps it’s because music can express what words cannot. Perhaps it’s because I know what I’m doing for once. Perhaps it’s because I can be whoever I want.

We’ll see.

Response to Xhesika’s post

“People change, but one thing remains true and that is that every phase, every attitude, every laugh, and even every bad hair cut has been the real you.”

I loved reading through Xhesika’s post because in a sense it describes human beings. We tend to affiliate ourselves and others with just one thing. For example, sometimes I get recognized as Indian or Hindu or something that relates to my background. But in fact we are so much more than that. We need to understand that we shouldn’t be labelling each other with that one thing. Rather we should be viewing each other as just human beings because the way i see it, these different background informations only tend to divide us further and further. So yes, I am an Indian, but I am a human being first and thats how I relate to you or anyone else in this world.

Response to David’s Post

After reading your post, I felt that it resonated fully with me. I have never seen myself as fully American nor fully Mexican, but rather as something in between, a sort of fusion of the two. Although I have never visited my native country like you did, I do feel that if I were to go, I would also feel homesick, as my home in Mexico is very rural and although it is close to the capital, it is still far enough to be somewhat isolated. After 18 years of living in the city, I have grown used to the city life and what it has to offer, but I can never stop thinking what my life would have been like if my parents never come to the USA, and I had been born there instead. I also really enjoyed the second part of your post. Personally, I am not as religious as you, however, I do believe and agree with you on the fact that by having something to worship or value as a way to keep you grounded, you can always remain true to what you believe is the real version of yourself. For me that has been my passion for music and my love for my family. In all the ups and downs of my life, those two things have always helped me rise up stronger than before. Despite our current identity crises, I am confident that this in-between stage of our identities allows us to absorb the best of both of our cultures to become stronger and better people to some day served and give back to those who have helped us and supported us. Oh and that bible verse at the end was also very very well selected. The fact that Ebenezer was placed between those two places is very relevant to how we feel and I just wanted to say that it was an excellent choice and very good representation of what you were talking about. Good post man! Wish you the best on finding your Real!

Response to Fadwa

The kittens are so cute! Kittens! Kittens! Kittens!

I had no idea that something so simple like babysitting a kitten could have a much stronger meaning to it as you described. I agree that we should all be more nonchalant rather than stressing over the little things in life because it can change our whole perspective on life. I tend to stress over the small things sometimes because I overthink it, like exams and drama. I realized, however, that stressing over these trifle topics never pushed me anywhere but down. Looking at all of these things as if they don’t define me has helped with my anxiety and showed me to really live life according to my standards and no one else’s. Your blog post really resonated with me, Fadwa. Thank you for sharing that with us.