About jp 吉平

john patrick | 吉平 is a former superhero from seattle | usa

Notes: Changing the Air

  • It’s currently 75º in the desert.  AC is off, doors and windows are wide open, ceiling fans are changing the air.  A neighbor walked by and saw me typing and said, “Hi, neighbor!” which surprised me. I thought she’d ignore me.  The high temp today will be 105º.
  • I got my phone screen repaired yesterday. Not my primary phone, an older phone that I plan to use in Hong Kong; I hope to drop a local SIM card in it and be super connected in a super connected city.  When I heard the news that Carrie Lam tabled the extradition proposal, I thought ok, the streets of Hong Kong will go back to normal for our visit. Oops, even more people have come out to demand her resignation. In any case I’m not nervous about massive protests while we go to visit. Even if they’re disruptive, we’re all going to learn a lot. I’m pretty fascinated how the official protest song is Sing Hallelujah to the Lord,  which was the Gospel Acclamation we used to sing at the UW Newman Center in the 90s.
  • LetGo‘ing my stuff is a weird experience. People are messaging me about my stuff, asking “what’s your lowest price?” No, people. No. If you want to haggle with me, you make an offer. If you’re not ready to make an offer, then shhhhh.
  • Today’s agenda: 9:15 workout, drop off some stuff at the donations center, drop off round two of postcards at the post office. When I get back, today will be day one of KonMari tidying:  Clothing. I can do it all in one day. Afterward, there are really no movies that I want to see, so maybe I’ll go bowling with a friend, or try to use up a gift card.
  • If I get all my KonMari‘ing done, Friday should be an LA day. Maybe I’ll try to go up on Thursday and crash with a friend.  We’ll see, I have to finish komono.
  • I shouldn’t be buying new stuff at the moment, but I bought some dollar store chanclas yesterday.

Move Out, Don’t Bring Me Down

So I’m starting to get ready to leave town.  I’m going to try to downsize as much as possible for the next two weeks, doing KonMarie, giving stuff away, and selling stuff on LetGo.  I sold my bed today, after listing it for six hours. I’m trying to sleep on my air mattress now but it’s a little difficult due to A/C holding steady at 81ª.

If I manage to get rid of the big stuff, I will downgrade the POD I reserved, and my move will be cheaper and easier.  It won’t be the first time for me to start over from scratch.

When I showed up in the desert three years ago, before I knew anybody, I would get an empty feeling when I saw the windmills. The desert was a place where I work but there’s nothing to discover, nothing to look forward to. Just work. Any discoveries I made were outside of this desert valley, on the coasts, in the big cities, or in México.

I started getting that empty feeling again after some of my friends moved away. Feeling that emptiness again after going a year or so without made me realize that I must have been doing ok here for a little bit. It was a rule of mine after Shanghai that I had to have non-work friends. That didn’t happen for me, here; all my friends were work friends.  Luckily, we all became outside-of-work friends as well, but I did get annoyed when we talked about work too much when we were off the clock.

Anyway, that empty feeling lasted for about a week, and I have new missions now; downsizing, Hong Kong, packing, driving to Seattle.  Just got an offer of free boxes, so I gotta post this and go.

Cruising the Strip

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Last night I cruised the Vegas Strip with T, who was on his long road trip back to Beantown. We met up at the Sign and had a quick dinner at skinnyFATS, which was the closest place on the short list I threw together of restaurants to that were quick, close to the strip, and not gross national fast food chains. I ordered a portobello sandwich. I didn’t propose a lot of Asian food, but in the end, T got a bowl of beef teriyaki.

On the way to the strip, we passed the site of the deadly mass shooting in 2017; local people refer to the tragedy as One October. I repeated the legend of Tupak getting shot on Las Vegas Blvd and E Flamingo (he did get shot on E Flamingo, but it was a block east of the strip on Kovar Drive). We cruised all the way up the strip to the Bonanza, shopped for refrigerator magnates, and then cruised all the way back down again and said goodbye as he continued his journey east.

Now that he’s gone, I will the last of the roadtrippers to escape the desert for good.

Yellow Brick Roadtrip

Here’s a preliminary schedule for my Great Northwestern Migration. My Yellow Brick Roadtrip. My Own Private Calexit. My Desert Escape. My Northwexodus. My Mount Rainier-I-Come.

Let me know if you’d like to join me for part or all of the drive!  I’ll pay for food, lodging, and gas.

  • 16 July, Tuesday. The POD arrives at my apartment in Palm Desert; we fill it with my boxes and furniture.
  • 17 July, Wednesday. The POD is spirited away. Last sleep in the desert, on air mattresses in an empty apartment.
  • 18 July, Thursday. Drive. Lunch in Bakersfield. Dinner in Elk Grover, short of Sacramento.  Crash at my friend’s cavernous palace, with a guest suite.
  • 19 July, Friday.  Drive. Lunch in Weed. Dinner and motel in Eugene.
  • 20 July, Saturday. Drive. Arrive in Seattle. Eat lunch. Go to a BBQ at Yones’ near Greenlake.

Update:  My route through Bakersfield will take me through Delano.  I wonder if I should do a UFW pilgrimage and photo essay,

Disappointment, Jury Duty, and Las Vegas

Yesterday I woke up in the desert, too late to go to the 5am workout. I got dressed in slacks and an aloha shirt, as I had been advised to do for jury duty, and left the house for breakfast around 6:30.

b8bde4ae-49fd-4690-bdf7-7fa9879824fcI got to the cafe and ordered a small americano for here, and a lox bagel. The owner happily made my americano and then cheerfully told me, “I’ll only charge you for the americano, since my kitchen guy hasn’t arrived yet.”

I wish he had given me that information before he had made my americano, I would have made a different choice. At the very least, I wished he had made some sort of apology, because I was really disappointed about not getting that lox bagel. I sat on the patio and quickly drank that non-great coffee and fumed about the non-bagel, the non-apology, and the non-information.

58187043467__5fbd9207-2092-4ce9-805d-892863a205f4-1As I drove to the courthouse I looked at my St. Benedict bracelet and wondered if I should go to the 7:30am Spanish mass on the day that I start my road trip, and ask Fr. Guido to bless me before I go.

There is a Del Taco across the street from the courthouse. I parked and went inside. A homeless man asked me to buy him breakfast, so I ordered myself an egg and cheese burrito for myself, and a chicken quesadilla for my new friend. After I had paid, he asked if I had ordered him a drink, and I just said, “no,” and didn’t apologize.

img_2704I moved my car to the courthouse parking lot and got in the long line for courthouse security, which stretched around the corner, and started texting M. The line moved fast, and soon enough I was scanning my badge and finding a seat in the jury lounge. I saw two former students but didn’t say hello.  My name was not called for the first trial, so when they gave us a break, I moved my car to another spot in the same parking lot.

 

After the break, I returned to the jury room, and waited for the second round. This time they did call my name, and when it came time to discuss hardships, I felt annoyed with people who thought they were there to give a sob story. The judge just wanted people to say the words “financial hardship.” Just say those words! I didn’t mouth off though, because even I have to behave in a courtroom. The judge dismissed me after I said I was leading a study abroad to Hong Kong and then had a moving van scheduled.

img_2708-1So after a morning of mostly sitting on a couch and texting my friends, I was free. I treated myself to a cauliflower-crust pizza. T came over and checked in with me; it wasn’t goodbye though.

After that, I got in my car and drove four hours to Las Vegas. I was feeling sleepy on the drive, so I ate a bunch of junky snacks and sang karaoke at the top of my lungs, and then next thing I knew, I was here. I kissed my mama and pet the dogs and ate hot rice and cold banana blossoms, later there was bangus and kamatis. Went to bed early.

I woke up this morning in Las Vegas at 3:30 am, hungry. While I’m here I will not go to the gym, I will not KonMari my apartment, I will not go to the few desert restaurants and cafés that I have worn out over my three years in the desert. Family time, I guess.

On Wednesday, T will pass through Vegas on his way back to New England.  I’ll help him get a sandwich and buy a refrigerator magnet.

 

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The Measure of Whiteness

A couple of months ago, someone asked me how I have enjoyed the desert over my time here; and checked to see if I had done all the requisite desert activities; hiking, Joshua Tree, Salvation Mountain, Idyllwild…

I shifted in my seat, chuckling, and told him that Asian people don’t do any of those things. For the record, Asian people go to LA or San Diego for haircuts, grocery shopping, and Daiso. No, I told him, we depend on our white friends to take us to the places he mentioned… In fact, the only thing on that list I had done was Idyllwild, only the past weekend, and only because R took me.

He then joked that I was in good hands then, because you couldn’t get any whiter than R!

The comment made me uncomfortable, but what I did was smile and try to move on.

Later I told R about the situation; he chuckled about it and agreed, saying that he was, in fact, super white. I couldn’t smile and move on this time.

I don’t like it when white dudes rate each other’s whiteness. It’s a weird thing that majority people do, because they think about culture and ethnicity way, way less than those of us who have grown up as minorities.

Sometimes hearing white folks analysis of ethnicity is awkward; like letting a high school sophomore parallel park your car. Or like patiently listening to a fifth grader play Für Elise on the piano. We know it’s a big step for them, and we want to be encouraging, but if you ask us candidly, we are being patient. We are patiently waiting out the clumsiness.

I struggled for a while to figure out why it bothered me that one white guy was calling another white guy whiter. I wonder if somebody thinks of me as more or less Filipino American than my cousins (gross). I asked R if he would dare to rank the teachers in the Spanish department from most to least Mexican. The answer was no, he would not dare.

If R is more white than you, what does that make you? If you are less white than another white person, what are you more of? Can a white person’s whiteness be so small in measure that they are no longer white? What would you call a white person without whiteness?

I think this goes back to majority mentality. Majority people (of any society) do not think of culture and ethnicity as core to their identity; they think that deep down, they are just normal people, and that culture and ethnicity are added features. To them, I’m the same dish as they are, and my filipinity is some extra sauce, served on the side, a superficial difference.

That is a mentality that oppresses other people. It means that Asians cannot warm up their food in the lunch room. It means that Black people don’t get to wear their hair the way it grows naturally. It means that Mexicans expect that the cops will come to their birthday party with noise complaints. It means that Middle Eastern Americans regardless of religion should arrive at the airport early, factoring in extra time for a TSA inspection.

The majority culture ruthlessly enforces their idea of normal. The rest of us supposedly have constitutional rights, but not in these situations. Our food smells bad to them. Our hair is not professional to them. Our celebrations sound like trouble to them. We look like terrorists to them.

To them, going to Joshua Tree is perfectly normal. I’ve never been. Not even R wanted to take me with him.

I posed the question of comparative whiteness on Facebook and asked my friends to weigh in. There were a lot of good responses. The one that stood out the most was not necessarily about ethnicity: someone was tearing down R to make himself look better. Sure, it was intended as some light hearted teasing, but the impact was “yuck.”

First of all, you don’t talk about my friend.

Second, how are you going to use your own ethnicity to insult someone else? The Wonder bread is calling the mayonnaise “white.”

Driving up to Idyllwild, eating some hamburgers when you get there, and listening to some Bonnie Raitt music doesn’t oppress me. Making casual, light hearted jokes about who is whiter doesn’t oppress me either, but wow, it has bothered me for months, now.

Third and finally, you don’t talk about my friend.

So listen, I’ve told this story to several people to get their take on it. The majority of my white male friends who have heard the story chuckle about the situation, and add their own lighthearted take to it; they buy into and participate in the idea of the measure of whiteness.

My friends that are not white men; brown people and also white women, are across the board appalled, and immediately so. My white women friends are very quick to seize on the power dynamic of the situation; the fact that the “someone” in this story was actually our white supervisor, talking to one employee about the whiteness of another employee.

Anyway, none of the white men in this story are racists or white supremecists. None of them oppress me or intend to offend me. All of the white men in this story are people that I respect. I’m not mad at any of them.

I only suggest that we see something they don’t see. The questionable nature of measure of whiteness is in their cultural blind spot. If you’re not careful about your blind spots, you might cut someone off, or get in a wreck. Arrogant people deny that their blind spot exists. Those of us who are concerned with the safety and well being of everybody on the road acknowledge that we have blind spots. We trust people with different points of view to let us know if we are safe to maneuver. We learn to check in the mirror. We learn to look over our shoulders, to see our blind spots with our own eyes.