SELECTED ESSAYS

 

LETTER TO MY 25 YEAR-OLD SELF
Posted on August 18, 2016
…You will stop using James Bond ringtones, and you will realize that it’s okay to fight windmills as long as you’re not in denial about it. Fighting windmills is a good fight, whether or not Dulcineas exist. You will have no problem admitting that many of the things you do, many of the things that you create or design, can be utter garbage sometimes, because you will have created enough to still have a lot of good stuff left after you’ve filed away the garbage…

OH, THE HUMANITY
Posted on May 2, 2015
“A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.”
This line was spoken near the end of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it’s stuck with me long after the movie ended. It is, I think, the central theme of it all, perfectly describing the human race, it’s/our imperfections, our constant search for trying to make things better, trying to make things perfect, and never ever getting there.

FINN THE CAT
Posted on June 4, 2014
We lost Finn, a rescue cat, today to a feline virus. After months of vet visits and sweat and tears, and Kristie the foster mom’s sleepless nights and days of work and worry to save him, and a group of people pooling together enough money to try experimental drugs and pay for blood tests and whatever, we still lost him.

THIS GRAY MOSAIC
Posted on November 16, 2013
The Philippines was never a bright, colorful Disney movie, at least not where the people live. Where the people live, it’s often overcast with a haze from pollution or the latest storm, or a combination of both. Humidity is high, so the air in front of you is not quite clear. Pockets of government are corrupt, continuing this lack of clarity. The country is financially poor. The streets aren’t swept by big vacuuming trucks once a week like in America, so the scum and trash that were brought in by the last storm stay until the next storm brings its own. Nothing looks new.

SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE
Posted on August 1, 2013
A man walks into a building to work at a job that he hates because ten years ago he proposed to a pretty girl. He sits at a desk that faces a sealed window and does just enough work so that he doesn’t get fired. He defends the company that he works for while he updates his resume on the tenth day of every month. Buried deep in his mind are fifty typewritten pages of every case of fraud, discrimination, and sin that his company has committed in the last eight years, a list that he will forever be too afraid to reveal, even after he has been laid off. And if he survives another fifteen years, he knows that his future will be paid for by the sweat of the newly recruited.

NOT ON OUR BEACHES
Posted on March 17, 2011
There is a running joke in disaster movies lately, about how nobody cares if Los Angeles gets obliterated during an alien attack, or swallowed up because the Earth’s tectonic plates suddenly decide to shift a few thousand feet within a matter of days. After all, what would be lost around here—the culture is in New York and Chicago, the money is in Manhattan, the power in Washington D.C., and farms and livestock are spread out in between. Would the world miss Hollywood? Would anyone miss the traffic?

A PLEA BEFORE FOREVER
Posted on January 3, 2010
Time can be a liar, a joker, a magician, a fool, and a navigator. It will try to make you think that where you are is a permanent place, right before it tries to make you think again a second later. And when it has convinced you that nothing lasts, and nothing is worth keeping, it gives you a miracle.

THE RUNAWAY SLAVE
Posted on October 2, 2009
“It’s not a swamp, because the water moves. It moves slow, but it moves.”
The Everglades is one of the places featured in Ken Burns’ documentary The National Parks. It’s a place where people hid, from displaced Indians to runaway slaves, to thieves, deserters, outcasts. A politician named Napoleon Broward wanted to drain the Everglades and turn it into commercial land, redirecting the water to irrigate farms and provide drinking water to urban housing. He didn’t get his way. Today the Everglades, at 1.5 million acres, is the second largest national park in the country, next to Yellowstone. Its ecosystem helps provide a balance to the planet.

DRONE
Posted on August 4, 2009
A moment before the alarm clock wakes up the day to play the radio, there is a very quick hum that precedes it, almost imperceptible, and only those who are already awake before the alarm goes off can hear it.

PIECES OF WATERGATE
Posted on May 1, 2009
In the summer of 1974, only half a year after coming to America, my parents and I went to see a drive-in movie. My father worked three jobs—full-time as an engineer during the weekdays, driving a taxi cab on weekends, and as a cook in the kitchen of the concession stand at a drive-in theater. One of the perks of working at a drive-in theater was that my dad could take his family to work and let them watch a whole night of movies for free. We arrived an hour before the gates officially opened, when the parking lot’s tire spikes were still lowered to allow employees to come in through the exits.