Losing My Religion

Literally.

This isn’t a topic I like to talk about, because I think that many people have a very firm mindset about where they stand with it so I don’t see much point in conversation. Especially since I’m not firm in my stance myself.

I was raised in a Roman Catholic household. I know all the prayers, though due to lack of practice over the years I’ve forgotten parts of them. When I was in between middle school and high school, I felt in my heart that there was no more connection to God in me. I took on atheism as my ideology, and revoked anything that had anything to do with religion.

That was the approximate time in my life where I was starting to learn what the world was. When I started paying attention to the news, when I was exposed to criticisms of religion and other religions. I was first and foremost revolted by the way the Catholic church views homosexuality, which was what made me want to rebuke Catholicism to begin with. How they view abortion, how they view gender roles, all these strange Bible passages and conflicting interpretations. I didn’t like it. After that I believed in a higher power, but I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it cared at all what happened to me or anyone.

That’s how I landed at atheism. I just kept reading about horrible things in this world, and I was so sure that if there was a God out there (s)he wouldn’t let any of it happen to begin with. So I lost my religion. I lost all faith. I believed in community and love and goodwill and togetherness and all that, but just not under any deity. Because I was a good person, and you don’t need to be religious to be a good person.

Despite all that, recently I’ve been feeling uncomfortable. Even though I call myself an atheist, I definitely believe in something. Though I don’t admit it, sometimes in private I pray. I whisper all the lines I remember, hoping whoever is out there is listening.

I think this life is too big to be happenstance. I don’t know if I’ll ever call myself a Catholic again, but I don’t think I can call myself an atheist. For now I don’t want to focus on a label, I want to focus on what I believe. I want to sort my feelings out and find that connection I thought I once had with something higher than myself.

“No matter how far you have walked from God, he is still waiting ahead.”
-Creature, Penny Dreadful

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Kicked Down on the Road Less Traveled

The other day I went to visit one of my favorite teachers from high school. He looked at me and gave me a hug and asked how I was doing, and he said, “How is your gestation going?”

Of course I expected this question. And I told him I was doing good, and he smiled and I could see that he was trying to look happy for me, but I could also see the worry in his eyes and the care he took in choosing his words.

“I’ve been keeping track of you on Facebook, just making sure you’re okay.”
“It seems like you have a strong family and friend support network, that’s really good. I’m happy to hear.”
“I’m sure you’re going to miss life up there at Tech, but you can always visit and maybe go back one day right?”
“You’re a very smart and sweet girl, I know you can succeed.”

These are all common questions and statements and I appreciate the concern, but it’s all just subtle ways of trying to comfort me and trying to comfort himself. I’ve been getting this from everyone.

Then he asked, “Do you remember the poem we read in class? ‘The Road Not Taken’?”

Of course I did.

“This is you taking the road less traveled by, and it will make all the difference, and it could be a good thing. Maybe it could be the best thing that’s ever happened.”

It was funny; he’s a very intelligent guy, I kind of anticipated he’d bring some form of poetry or history into the conversation at some point.

I loved that he did. I loved how he was trying to be encouraging and I loved that he smiled when he looked at me. But it’s all the same.

I have friends that look at me with smiles on their faces yet their eyes are downcast. I’ve heard, “You’re a very smart girl, you can do this” so many times that if I had a dollar for every time someone said it, I could send my kid to college. It’s come to the point where it almost feels like they’re not trying to reassure me as much as they’re trying to reassure themselves.

The other day I was having a conversation with my friend. He was talking about his college problems, then suddenly he goes, “Oh, I feel insensitive talking about my problems when yours are so much more severe.”

Um, thanks?

And I’ve gotten this multiple times! Friends talking about their problems, then looking at me and going, “Oh, but yeah I know you have things worse sorry for complaining.”

And it just kind of, you know, hurts.

Like, damn.

I’m doing my best to be as happy and positive about this as I can. I know I’m a smart girl. I know I’m capable of raising this child at a young age and I know I will still live a good life. I know that I got problems, but it’s just kind of irritating when people bring them up all the time, especially the assumed severity of them.

“Yeah, college loans are killing me. But I know that’s nothing compared to the cost of a baby.”
“Yeah, I’m worried college isn’t working out. My grades were so bad I’m worried I’ll get on academic probation… Oh, but you had to drop out right? What will you do about school? I feel bad for talking about this when I’m still in school.”

God, talk about kicking someone while they’re down.

I love my friends. I love that they’re so supportive and caring. But I wish they’d stop looking at me and talking to me like I’m wounded, because sometimes they make me believe that I really am. And I am strong and I am fierce and I am brilliant, but I can only take so much with everyone beating me down, no matter how subtly it’s happening.

I know this is a hard situation, for everyone involved. No one ever saw this coming. None of my friends know anyone in a similar situation, so no one knows how to handle it. Everyone’s trying to tiptoe around me because they don’t want to risk stumbling over and falling on me and crushing my spirit.

What I want is for my friends to be genuinely happy for me. And I know that they’re supportive and I know that they love me and I know that they’ll do whatever they can to help, but I just don’t want these vibes of, “Watch what you say around her, you don’t want to kick her while she’s down.” Oh the irony.

All I want is for people to stop looking at me as if I’ve gone down the wrong path, when really I’ve just gone down the one different from their own.

Fifty Shades of Fun

For some it’s food. For others, maybe a comic book or movie. A dance or a song, etc etc. I’m always reluctant to admit it in front of my smarty-party friends, but the Twilight saga is definitely my biggest guilty pleasure.

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I know the critiques of it are numerous and the compliments are few. Everyone questions what it teaches the youth: that the most important thing in life is being in a relationship. The writing is second-rate, and it probably used about 1/1,000th of the creativity it took to make the Harry Potter series. It’s a cliched love triangle story, and a lack-luster one at that.

But, nevertheless, I love it.

Hey, that’s why they call it a guilty pleasure.
(Fun fact: I named this post after Fifty Shades of Grey, the latest S&M mommy porn novel that originally started as a Twilight fan fiction. Go figure!)

I’ve been on vacation with my family for the past week. The other night we were trying to find something on TV, and lo and behold we stumbled upon Breaking Dawn Part 2. It was the first time I had seen it. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but I started swooning. I giggled like a silly school girl and I yearned for affection.

The Twilight saga always takes me back to the time when I first read the series (I believe the summer after 7th grade). Most of my friends were obsessed, and so was I. Admittedly I read the entire first book in a day, and the pattern continued with the rest of the series.

When I first read the series, I had just turned 13. I had never been in a relationship before and I had never felt love for anyone outside of my family. To me, the thought of this illogically perfect relationship with a man that loved you unconditionally for no apparent reason seemed like a dream. I wanted to be wooed and romanced, because I had never experienced that before. Reading it, I felt like I finally knew what passion was. Doing anything to make the other person happy, tying your life to theirs, wanting to twine your souls together for all eternity.

Not gonna lie, I used to stay up wishing I had a vampire watching me from the corner of my room. Swoon swoon.

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“The Proper Reaction”

But really, for someone like me who grew up knowing absolutely nothing about boys, I was pretty obsessed with love stories. This was just the first story I ever read that had sex in it hohoho.

To get personal, the reason I decided to write this post is because a dream of mine is finally coming true. In 3 weeks I’ll be going to the beach with my boyfriend! I’m 18 and Filipino, things like this don’t happen. Ever. But my mom is cooler than other moms and made my dad get over it. Soon I’ll be splashing in the ocean and walking down the beach holding hands with my sugar buns.

Growing up watching love stories and watching shoujo anime with their obligatory beach episodes where the heroine goes to the beach with a group of her friends (including sempai) and a series of events always gets them together in some dreamy ooey gooey romantic way, I never expected I’d ever get to do it too.

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And of course, obligatory anime beach episode watermelon smashing.

I don’t want an unnecessarily and awkwardly perfect relationship like Bella and Edward’s. I love being challenged by my boo. It’s just sometimes it’s nice to unwind with an old fantasy every now and then.

My Shining Debut

I’m 18!

In the Philippines, when a girl turns 18, she has what’s called a Debut. It’s a lot like the Spanish quinceañera, but instead of 15 it’s celebrated on the 18th birthday.

I have a big, beautiful, baby pink, sort of Victorian style dress, and a second cocktail style sky blue dress. I have a gigantic cake with 5 flavors (coconut, red velvet, chocolate, strawberry, and dulche de leche) in the shape of a castle (kind of, they tried their best). It’s going to take place in the ballroom of a fancy hotel, and all my friends are going to be there. It will be the one night I can truly feel like a princess. (I even have a tiara hehe.)

Part of the tradition is the 18 roses and the 18 candles.

18 Roses
I’m going to dance with 18 of my close male friends. They’ll approach me one by one, present a rose to me, and dance for about half a minute each. My brother first, then my cousins, my uncles, my friends, and lastly my boyfriend. By the end of it I’ll be holding 18 roses (though I’m not quite sure how I’ll be able to waltz with people after like the 8th rose…)

18 Candles
I don’t get to blow out candles on my gigantic cake. 18 of my closest female friends will line up holding these cute little candles and make a small speech (wish) for me, and I blow them out one by one. I hope they say nice things akdjnakjnkjdasd.

Before all of that, I’ll have my father-daughter dance. It’s gonna be awkward because my dad and I are awkward, and I guarantee that we’ll be laughing through the entire thing, but it’ll be fun.

I’m very excited. My mom has been planning this party for 2 years, and as of now it’s in 2 days. My family in the Philippines is poor so not many girls in my family got a Debut, including my mom, so somehow I can feel the joy and excitement and hopes and dreams of all my family on this one night.

This one night that is costing more than most modest-sized weddings. I’ve been pretty stressed about this, mostly because of the money. So I have approximately 150 people coming, and since it’s at a hotel it requires a guest list. Every name on the list costed $50. From this point on, everyone that cancels wasted $50 from my family. So far 2 people have cancelled, and it just makes me really frustrated.

Sometimes I feel like I’m more frustrated than my mom. She’s been pretty stressed, but I’ve been so angry at times that I can feel my pulse throbbing in my neck. BUT, I found a way to calm myself down!

My uncle is the manager of the hotel we’re having the party at. He’s been getting us a lot of free stuff (about $1,000 worth) so every time someone cancels I just think “Oh, well I guess we’re paying for the appetizers.” I don’t know, it just makes me feel less hostile.

Back to a lighter tone.

My whole life, I’ve felt like a reject. The kid that no one wanted to play with, the girl that no boy could ever love, the hideous mistake that doesn’t deserve the breath of life. Now I have lots of friends, a wonderful boyfriend, and a bright future ahead of me after college.

When I was a kid, I was always 100% convinced that I was actually a princess. I’m not sure why though… But yes. I always thought that one day I would wake up in a castle and everyone would want to be with me and I would be absolutely beautiful. On my debut, in my big, gorgeous princess dress, in my sparkly tiara, with all my loved ones watching, I know that I’ll feel like a princess. Somehow, I feel like this day may be bigger than my wedding day.

I may be frustrated now, and I seem stressed all the time, but I’m really excited. I know that no matter what happens, everything will work out alright and it will truly be a night I will always remember.

For one night, I will be a princess, and no person or irksome situation can take that away from me.

Let’s Talk About Sex (aww right)

If anyone’s seen the movie Pitch Perfect, I thought of the title of this post the way Bumper sang it during the riff-off… Okay then.

One problem has been bothering me for a very long time:

“If you have sex, your penis will fall off and land in another dimension populated entirely by dogs, who will eat it.”

“Don’t have sex, you will get pregnant and die.”

Well those weren’t very good examples from Family Guy or Mean Girls, but you get the idea. Schools (and ((religious)) society in general) are purposely trying to scare kids (adolescents), or feed them lies, to prevent them from having [premarital] sex.

Let me say this: It won’t work. With sex being so over-glorified in every form of media, and being open with your sex life is almost encouraged in this day and age, there’s no way to stop kids that want to.

Here’s what happened at my friend’s school:

During their Family Life Education unit, their teacher asked for a volunteer. A girl was called up, and the teacher put a ring on the traditional wedding finger. The teacher said, “Many of you want to get married right? If you have premarital sex, here’s what will happen.” And she took the ring off, heavily implying that premarital sex will prevent future marriage, also implying that you will become “tainted” and “impure”. The lady didn’t talk about contraception either. Apparently she just discussed how babies happen, and alternatives to sex. Contraceptives were mentioned, but not in detail.

Sigh. Luckily for me, my school isn’t that bad. We discussed the different kinds of contraceptives and they emphasized that if we’re going to have sex, to use protection. Of course they also emphasized that abstinence is the only fool proof method to prevent pregnancy and STI contraction, but you know, that’s just a fact.

Other school’s, like my friend’s, aren’t as fortunate. Schools and society are using scare tactics to try and prevent premarital sex, largely for religious reasons. (Though there are un-religious reasons, such as unwanted pregnancies.)

I’ll say this: Sex is great. It feels awesome. And contrary to popular belief, premarital sex won’t damn you to a life of misery and woe.

Reasons To Have Premarital Sex:

  • It feels great
  • You and your partner trust each other
  • You are emotionally prepared
  • You just want to (It’s natural, and there shall be no slut-shaming in a one-night stand my darlings)

Reasons NOT To Have Premarital Sex:

  • You’re getting peer-pressured
  • You think everyone else is doing it
  • You think you’ll lose your significant other if you don’t

Now let me tell you some things about sex that the schools probably don’t mention *(things might get graphic):

FALSE – The Morning-After pill makes you feel like shit.
Yes, I had to take one. Accidents happen. I was beyond scared because I learned in school that it forced heavy bleeding for at least a week and it made all your worse symptoms hit you times 10. Well, none of that happened. I felt completely normal. I even called Planned Parenthood to make sure everything was okay, and they said that most women who take the pill experience little to no side-effects. I had spotting for 2 days, but besides that, I felt perfectly normal.

TRUE – Use a condom during sex. ALL types of sex.
Something that’s not really spoken about is anal sex. Up the butt. For some reason many teenagers think this is the way to stay abstinent/virginal? Dumbasses. Many believe that you don’t need a condom during anal sex, but you do. If you don’t really know your partner, there could still be STI contraction. But also, semen wasn’t designed to go up the butt, you know? The mixing of butt stuff and semen could lead to infection. Also, anything up the butt (not just a penis, I don’t know what you guys are into) could lead to tearing of the tissues in the anus, so lots of lube is always required for butt stuff. NOTE: Do NOT use anything other than lubricant as lubricant. Things like Vaseline or lotions make condoms less effective and were not designed for sexual purposes. STIs can also be contracted from oral sex. If you don’t really trust trust your partner, use some form of protection. If it’s a girl, consider using your fingers instead. If it’s a guy, use a condom instead. Flavored condoms were made specifically for that purpose. Be safe my friends.

TRUE – The first time hurts.
Maybe not for guys, but for ladies. To be honest, the first time kind of feels like having sand paper rubbed all up in your lady bit. After a while, the natural function of your lady bit will make you wet and ease things up, but yes, the first few times will come with a pinch. (It gets better.)

FALSE – One-night Stands are shameful and put you on slut status.
WHAT DID I SAY EARLIER? THERE WILL BE NO SLUT SHAMING. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping with someone one time and not having anything to do with them later. Sure it doesn’t sound pretty, but there’s nothing wrong with it, okay? Sex is a natural thing. Sometimes you just need it. And if you don’t want to wait a couple months or a couple years to find Mr/Ms Right, then find some decent looking stranger that wants to bang you and have a completely protected night of fun. I see nothing shameful in it, as long as it takes place between two (or more, I don’t know how you get down) consenting parties.

TRUE – Abstinence is the only fool-proof method.
No one wants to contract an STI or have an unwanted pregnancy. There is no 100% method that will prevent either. Yes, condoms are only 98% effective. When you think that it means that they’re 2% ineffective, you could feel panic. But know that many, many, many people use condoms all the time and have been using them for years, and it hasn’t been a problem for most. If you’re really scared of pregnancy, consider combining condoms with a spermicide, or the birth-control pill. (NOTE: Avoid condoms with built-in spermicide because they’re less effective.) If absolutely worse comes to worse, there is the morning-after pill, but it’s very expensive (in the ballpark of $50-60) and should ONLY be used as an absolute last resort. It is by no means okay to use as a regular form of contraception because it f*cks up your hormones for like a month. There are also female condoms, etc etc. There are also tube-tying and tube-cutting, and vasectomies, but the primary target of this post is teenagers so I don’t think anyone will be needing those soon. Remember: Wrap it before you tap it.

FALSE – Crazy sex positions are demeaning and glorified by the porn industries.
There are a lot of moves such as facials, doggy-style, anal, etc that many claim to be for purely male pleasure and are meant to be unemotional — and degrading to the receiving partner. Newsflash: Some women take great pleasure from anal sex. And doggy-style (it just feels different). And all those other moves. Like I said earlier, as long as you’re COMFORTABLE and you CONSENT to the actions, then it’s okay. If anything makes you feel uncomfortable, tell your partner right away. I read once in an article (by this great sex therapist) that if you have to actively think “Is this degrading? Should I be offended by this move/act?” then it probably isn’t. Don’t think so hard about these kinds of things that it takes away from the fun of the moment. As long as you’re comfortable, don’t be afraid to give something a try worrying about being politically correct. Because everyone wants to be politically correct in bed, obviously.

FALSE – Premarital sex is wrong and sinful.
I come from a very Catholic family. I get this a lot. But you know what? Jesus isn’t always right. Sex feels awesome. There’s no shame in wanting to feel physical pleasure with someone you like. It will not damn you or prevent any sort of future happiness or get you pregnant and ruin your life (if you take all the necessary precautions). It’s a natural act that I believe everyone should experience.

TRUE – Sex is good for you.
All the studies prove it. Sex releases chemicals in the brain that de-stress and ease the body. Men with heart problems show signs of perfectly normal health the moments directly after sex. If you do it vigorously enough (for lack of a better adjective, oh baby), it’s a great form of exercise. Sex is fun, it’s pretty great, I don’t know what else to say.

It’s kind of late and I can’t really think of anything else, but I hope I can help someone somewhere. I hope I can answer any questions about sex that weren’t here (which is a lot).

When I have a child I should just show them this post to prevent an awkward sex talk. Or show them this… I should be an FLE teacher. I may not know exactly what a blastocyst is (the only ‘medical’ term I remember from FLE because it sounds like a Pokemon), and I may laugh at the word “testicles”, but I’d speak openly and honestly to my students.

The bottom line: As long as you’re comfortable, and as long as you’re not being pressured, don’t worry about your family’s or society’s beliefs. Do what you feel is right when you feel it’s right. As long as you believe you’re ready and you genuinely want to, then go for it.

I said a bang, bang, bangity bang I said a bang bang bangity bang.

The Importance of Being Filipino

For the record, I’m Filipino.

My family is the standard Filipino family. Extremely Catholic, extremely conservative, and a Last Supper in the kitchen. Plus, we make egg rolls.

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THREE STARS AND A SUN.

My family is Filipino, but the thing is, they like other Filipinos, and Filipino things.

Since I’m not really sure if I’m describing this correctly, let me just so straight to my examples:

A) I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over 2 years. My parents do not associate with my boyfriend’s dad as often as he’d like. They’re not particularly “friends”, just acquaintances. They all partake in socially required small-talk at appropriate occasions, but nothing more than necessary.

B) I once had a best friend in middle school who was Filipino. When I told my parents, they started freaking out. “Invite her over!” “Ask her parents to come too, we can all talk together!” “Maybe we should pick something up for them at the Filipino store? That’s the nice things to do.” “That’s so nice you can tell her to come over whenever she wants I’ll talk to her parents.” I was only friends with her for a year.

More recent examples just so you can really pick up what I’m throwing down here:

A) Since I’m heading off to college soon, I was supposed to be roommates with this one (white) girl I met on our school page. We talked everyday on Facebook for over a month and she was really nice, and she even came over for a day and slept over. After the sleepover, my mom was like, “Are you sure you want to be roommates with her? It’s never too late to back off, you haven’t even known her very long.”

B) I met another girl on the page who happened to be Filipino, and I had been talking to her for about an hour. My mom came in my room for laundry and I told her I’m talking to a Filipino girl. Can you guess what she said? “Does she have a roommate yet? Go ask her to be roommates!”

I’ve noticed this trend in all cultures actually. With my Indian friends, my Korean friends, my Vietnamese, white, and African American friends. Everyone. People like other people from their own race.

I learned about this in psychology. People are more attracted to people like them. Not like them only in personality, but also looks. It’s an undeniable fact that a Vietnamese person will look more like another Vietnamese person than an Indian will. Maybe this is something I can study as a psychologist, hmm. (Psych major here).

This racial flocking is predominant in children too. I worked at this summer camp called REC-PAC two years ago. Sure all the kids could get along, but at lunch when I walked around, all the white kids were in one corner, the Koreans in another, and so on. The kids were even more inclined to play with the instructors of their race. (Since Filipinos aren’t common in this area, I was a pretty odd-one out.) However, I did try singing Gee from Girls’ Generation just to see what would happen, and the Korean kids clung to me for a little while after that.

The reason I thought of writing this post is because as I go to Virginia Tech, I’ll need to join clubs and make friends. My cousins at UVA suggested I join VT’s FASA — Filipino American Student Association. My cousins are currently members of UVA’s OYFA — Organisation of Young Filipino Americans. They explained to me that there’s something comfortable about the club, and that it’s really easy to be around other Filipinos. I wondered, but why? How does that make any sense? And they told me this.

It’s easy to bond simply by being Filipino. You can mock accents together and speak the language. You can talk about similarities between your families and share stories easily and laugh about it. The clubs organize Filipino food nights, and that’s especially good for bonding.

What I got from that is this: Being from the same race helps skip the awkward “I don’t know if I have anything in common with this stranger so let’s make idle small-chat until something happens” phase.

When I tried explaining my thoughts on this to one of my (white) friends, he said this: “So your parents moved half-way around the world to be here, and they don’t even try to associate with the natives?”

Excuse me. To make things clear, my parents did not want-want to come here. They went here because the Philippines is a poverty stricken country with a poor education system, and they wanted their children to have good futures. They did not want to leave the place they grew up in for 30 years to live here. They did not want to leave their gigantic families to be here by themselves. They are friendly — they socialize, they make friends that aren’t Filipino. It’s just that when they meet another Filipino, it’s great. It reminds them of the home they left and miss like hell.

Never, ever ever ever, ever, look at someone that hangs out with mostly people from their own race and call them racist. Because I’ve heard it before, and it just makes me want to punch you.

Let’s say you’re white and you grew up in America and lived there most of your life, and due to unnamed circumstances you’re forced to move to another country, like India or China, or even the Philippines. Sure, you can assimilate. You can find your role and make friends. But if one day you met another American, wouldn’t you want to talk to them?

Personally, I wish my parents were more open to change, and more open to socializing with other people. But I can see where they’re coming from, and I appreciate what they did for my brother and I.