The other day I had a conversation with a close friend that freaked me out. Whereas in the past this friend and I used to bond over our shared feminist singleness in the patriarchy, this conversation felt more like a defense of settling for mediocre men. While I love this friend, parts of this conversation stressed me out so much I literally opened a Word doc to draft a blog post titled “What If I Date a Man and Sacrifice All My Values and Become a Husk of My Former Self.”
Imagine this: I, a queer red-haired Vietnamese man, recline in an office chair in the guest bedroom of a generous friend. A near-empty glass of orange juice sits on the turquoise desk where I stare at an open Word document, journaling about my anxieties surrounding men and patriarchy. Continue reading
I turned 24 today, huzzah! In some ways it feels surreal that I have spent 24 years on this earth reading books, obsessing over pop stars, and over-disclosing about my life on the internet. Though this year has had its share of downs, ranging from encountering aversive racism in my professional life to falling for an emotionally unavailable man on the internet, it has also contained several ups. On the whole, who knew that the weird, not-so-socially-conscious high school kid who started this blog would transform into a
similarly weird, similarly extra red-haired therapist icon who went to therapy himself and figured out his life and worked through his trauma?
To celebrate 24, I wanted to write a list of 24 things, people, etc. I feel grateful for. Continue reading
I always wanted to run away from home, from my abusive mother and her screaming fits and mood swings. In high school, I put my head down and worked hard so I could get into a good college and escape. I did run away from home once. I wrote a blog post about it, too. Then, I got into a great college and left at long last, only to run head first into a disturbing relationship and PTSD.
Fast forward five years and countless therapy sessions later. Continue reading
One of my worst fears came true: most of my closest friends have started dating men. When I pictured this point in my life, I imagined an utter dystopia. I would try to talk to my close friends and our conversations would always devolve into them describing a nice yet somewhat unremarkable deed their boyfriend did, like cooking lasagna for dinner. Or I would try to make a more radical point about men being trash and my friends, who would once side with me without blinking an eye, would look at me, gesture to their patriarchal monogamy devices wedding rings, and say “not all men are trash.” Or, I would feel so alone in my singleness that I would settle for Joe Smith from Tinder, a guy whose hobbies include Netflix, going on hikes with his dog, and practicing active listening once out of every two or three conversations.
“Do you think I’m too picky?” I asked my most recent therapist. “Like, there are a couple of super nice guys who’ve expressed interest but I’m just not into them. A couple of them are therapists who are into social justice but to be honest they bore me. Not to be all Freudian because Freud is trash, but like, do I have some weird attachment issue going on?”
“Thomas, you’re a gifted person.” She looked at me with caring and patience. “You want someone who’s on your level, someone who can challenge you. It makes sense that you wouldn’t be into some boring psychotherapist.”
In a society that encourages us to settle as soon as possible with whomever for the sake of fulfilling the heteronormative patriarchal romantic narrative, I felt so validated by her then. Continue reading
I haven’t written a blog post about K-Pop for five years thank god because all my posts were pretty trash but last year I found a new group to obsessively fanboy, my queens BlackPink. I have a lot to say about this splendid group but this post will focus on their 2017 summer smash “As If It’s Your Last,” an upbeat song that mixes house, reggae, and moombahton genres. The song is about an intense, all-consuming romance, so in theory I should hate it given how many posts I’ve written about the patriarchal nature of romance, and yet, I find myself engaged in an all-consuming romance with the song itself. I love this song so much because in “As If It’s Your Last,” BlackPink injects the tried and true romantic pop song with vibrant shades of cheerfulness and a persistent, pulsating agency.
Let’s start with the lyrics. Yes, there’s nothing radically feminist about the lyrics of “As If It’s Your Last,” no condemnation of the patriarchy for making us feel insecure without a romantic partner, no equivalent of Lisa’s somewhat capitalist yet so iconic “middle finger up, F U pay me” from “Boombayah.” However, within the realm of romance, BlackPink asserts their hearts’ desires and tells their lover exactly what they want from them. Continue reading
I did not expect my grandmother’s death in December to bring so much of the pain from my past losses back to life. On a lot of days, my grief spills over into other parts of my heart, reawakening the devastation I felt from the loss of L, the therapist I stopped seeing last May, as well as the sadness of missing my close friends and mentors from undergrad. I always knew that grief would take me on a curving, misery-laden path – no linear progressions, no easy fixes, no strong emotions that just fade into weaker ones over time – but you still feel heartbreak even if you prepare for it. Continue reading