04 july 2000 |
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please excuse my garish patriotism, but i cannot let this independence day pass without saying, without a trace of sarcasm or facetiousness, i am proud to be an american. now, i will not sing the national anthem, i will not recite the pledge of allegiance and i will not pay tribute to our forefathers or those who fought for our freedom. i may not even watch fireworks.
to me, that's not being american; that's just a bunch of garnish, it's the parsley on the rim of your plate, the tomato sliced to look like a rose. it makes being american prettier to eat and easier to swallow. here, have some ketchup. it'll taste better. smile, you're american. wave your flag. light a sparkler.
being american is something i had to apply for, work at and strive to become. literally. i was born in the philippines and did not get to trash the green card and wave my blue passport until four years ago when i was naturalized. until then, i was just a filipino living in america. a filipino who grew up in america, whose first language was english, whose way of life was learned through sit-coms and spending the night at her girlfriends' houses (which she wasn't even allowed to do until she was in junior high school, because that was just not proper, her parents would tell her), but still, i was not american.
i won't tell you tales of roads paved in gold or rocky voyages at sea. that was not how i came to america. my family's arrival was way more practical than that. i will not say that i would not have an education, or a home, or a faith, or a life, because in some ways i am sure had we stayed in the philippines i would be far richer. i might have been a well off, well bred young woman.
but if i stayed in the philippines, i would not be who i am today, and that is where my patriotism and pride and gratitude come in.
if i stayed, i could be fanning mosquitos away from my sticky skin and washing my clothes in a basin of soapy water. i might think the U.S. schools were like clueless and beaches were like baywatch. i probably would not have traveled outside asia and seen good art and tasted amazing food and met wonderful people. it's not a far off possibility that i'd be married by now to an honorable man in a respectable home with a child on the way and a maid or two to take care of everything for us -- and i know that sounds wonderful, but it's really rather dreary.
instead, i am a single, independent, educated young woman living in a nice apartment in a diverse city with so much of her life still ahead of her. i have traveled. i have worked. i have loved. i have made mistakes and i've learned from them. i've spoken english and learned tagalog and studied spanish and french. i've eaten steak and spaghetti and lumpia -- all at the same party.
i have the best of both worlds; i have two homes, two cultures and family all over the world. and i am proud to have it all.
and there's so much, so much that i can't even get into right now; fodder for an essay, maybe, or for a book of essays. so much that needs to be told, so much that is hard to explain, so much that maybe gets tossed around so lightly that its importance has lost its shine and some people are just sick of of hearing the same old stories. i'd tell them to you, because i have no problem at all telling them, because i believe they need to be told, but it's 3pm on the fourth of july and i need to eat some lunch and sit in the sunshine and find out where the fireworks are going to be tonight, because you know, we've gotta celebrate.
it's not that michelle and i are extraordinarily good hostesses; it's just that we have amazingly friendly, smart and fun friends who know how to have a good time.
it's one thing to call and say you can't come to the party, but don't tell me you're coming, make me worry because it's 11pm and you're not here yet and then just piss me off because you never came and didn't even bother to call.
i just picked up two collections of short stories by writers deemed brilliant by people i respect: all the anxious girls on earth, by zsuzsi gartner, and the girl with curious hair, by david foster wallace.
"i thought he was albino."
mudpie is a meal for anytime of day.
i was feeling kinda
the last time i checked.