Category Archives: Neither Here Nor There

I’m Insecure

When I was in third grade, I got into a fight with a boy named Johnathan. He was a total dick. He’d always pick fights with me. Tell me I was ugly. Hog the swing forever and I’d tell the teacher and get him in trouble.

Anyways, one day we were really going at it and he called me dumb. It hit my fragile third grade ego and I responded by telling him that his mother, who died when he was a lot younger, was “probably looking down on him disappointed.” And you know what he said? 

He said, “I know.”

I know. 

Not a condescending I know or an I don’t care I know. It was an ‘I’m sad’ I know.

I don’t remember much about elementary. I remember little snapshots of sharing Hi-Chews, trading chocolate gold coins for dollars, red fists from playing tetherball too long, and coloring only with pink. Vignettes of childhood. Yet, that memory always stays with me. Maybe every detail in my mind may not be absolutely accurate, but the feeling that I felt in that moment–– I will never forget it. I felt like the worst person in the world. 

I got home that day and cried. 

I felt like I disappointed my parents who always taught me to be kind to others; that I disappointed my teachers who often took my side, even if I was wrong, even if I lied, because I was a teacher’s pet; that I disappointed myself who wanted to be the best I could be; and that I even disappointed my ancestors for no other reason than I’m dramatic. 

I wasn’t cognizant of it then, but this year, facing my insecurities forced me to look at how insecurity is often derived from our innermost, irrational feelings of inadequacies but can metastasis in ugly and subtle ways, ways that hurt others. That day, I hurt someone because he made me feel less than I was but who likely only acted that way because he also felt less than he actually was. 

I was 8 then. I’m 24 now. And I wish I could say I have no more insecurities or that I’ve learned to be better at hiding or dealing with them. But I still suck my stomach in when I wear tight dresses. I’m still careful with what I share on social media because I haven’t learned to live without other’s validations yet. I still hide my thumbs because when I get anxious, I pick at the skin there. I still cry at night when I feel ugly, or stupid, or unskilled. I still think my cheeks are too “fat,” my eyes too small, my fingers too stubby. And when someone hurts me, I still want to hurt them back. Like 16 years ago. Like that day on the swing set.

I’ll probably never see Johnathan again and I don’t know if any of the thousands of heartfelt apologies I’ve came up with over the years would mean anything to him. He might have even completely forgotten about that moment.

But if I could go back in time, I would hope to find myself in that same moment. I would let him have the shaded swing set and content myself with the metal slide that literally burned my ass because it was always under the sun. 

And if I could go forward in time, I would simply hope to have found myself.

(wo)menstruation: Trying a Menstrual Cup for the First Time

Word Count
Vagina: 8
Blood: 7
Insertion: 10

In an effort to be more cost efficient and environmentally conscious, I purchased a menstrual cup (MC) back in October. It had arrived at the perfect time as my period started the day after it came in the mail and, as any millennial would do, I documented my experience on my Instagram (which has been shamelessly plugged here).

Before giving my thoughts, I was curious to know how much my followers knew about the cup. The results weren’t all that shocking to me. Only 16 out of 108 voters had tried/used an MC and 3 out of the 16 were guy friends trying to screw up my data (Calling you out Russell, Francis, and Devonte).

As a preface, I want to first mention that my goal here isn’t to provide a thorough, informational guide on what cup to use and how to use it, although I will touch upon some details here. I’m in no way an expert, and I wouldn’t want to lead anyone astray! Nor is my aim to convince you to buy a one, but if you did that’d be great. My goal is simply to share my own experience. And should any questions arise from that, feel free to leave it in the comments down below. I’d be glad to share more!

What is a menstrual cup?
Simply put, it’s a cup you insert into the vagina during menstruation. When the cup reaches capacity or after 8-12 hours, you empty the cup into the toilet, sink, etc., clean it, and reinsert it.

Product Details?
After a lot of research I finally settled on an MC that I felt would fit me best. You can find this brand here on Amazon.
IMG_4096Brand: Intimina
Model: Lily Cup A
Capacity: 18ml
Dimensions: Size A: 3.07 x 1.57 x 1.57 in.

IMG_4100

Unlike popular cups like the Diva Cup, Lunette, or the Lena Cup, the opening of the Lily cup is slightly slanted. It also comes with a nice pouch to carry it around in. There are many different brands, so make sure to research which one would make your vagina most happy.

The stem is also quite long, so I trimmed off maybe half an inch of it. Many sites recommend you do this. The MC shouldn’t extend past your opening and if it does, you’re likely to experience chaffing.

Inserting?
I tried different folds to make insertion easier. My two favorites are the taco fold and the punch down fold. The former is basically rolling the cup like it were a burrito and the latter is pushing down on one end of the rim as shown in the picture down below.

Did it hurt? No. But the first time using it was uncomfortable. With practice, however, that feeling went away.

Did I feel it inside me? No. When inserted correctly, I sometimes forget it was even there.

USING AN MC IN A PUBLIC BATHROOM???
Let’s get to the question everyone has on their mind: okay but using an MC in a public restroom is gross?

My first time cleaning out my MC in a public restroom was definitely nerve-wracking, BUT this is mainly because I was worrying about it so much. It’s not as weird once you get accustomed to it.

Was it messy? No. If you’re concerned about blood splashing everywhere, that did not occur at all for me.

Did I get blood on my hands? YES. But only the tips of my fingers. I should also mention that I do bring wipes inside the stall. To prevent this, bear down on the cup using your vaginal muscles and the cup should lower enough for you to get in and get out with little to no damage done. This also depends on how low/high your cervix is. You could also cover your hands with toilet paper when pulling it out.

As for cleaning, since I couldn’t always mosey off to the sink and rinse out my cup, I used toilet paper/baby wipes to wipe the inside after I dumped the blood into the toilet. This should work fine and most users will tell you this as well. IT’S NOT AS GROSS AS YOU MAY THINK.

Pros:

  1. Durability and Security:
    MCs  supposedly lasts hella long–– 10 years. And because I am not the plan ahead/track your cycle typa girl having the security of an MC always on hand was golden.
  2. Safety:
    It’s more hygienic than pads and it’s a lot safer than tampons (as it lowers the risk for TSS*).

    *note: While Toxic Shock Syndrome is most commonly connected to tampons, it can be acquired from a variety of (non-period related) things. So using a menstrual cup does not mean you will never get TSS, though the risk is very rare.

  3. Eco-Friendly and Cost Efficient
    If you’re aware of our environmental crisis, you might have heard that pads and tampons are not necessarily recyclable, although there are efforts to combat this (Check out LOLA  for more details!). Because MCs last longer, the need to purchase non-recyclable menstrual products is hardly ever a factor.
  4. Less Time in Between Changes
    Because the MC hold your period blood instead of absorbing it, I didn’t need as many stops to the bathroom as I used it. An MC can be left inside for a longer amount of time as it holds anywhere between 18 ml to 30 ml of blood. To put that into perspective, the average period is between 10 ml – 35 ml of blood. If it’s inserted correctly, it shouldn’t leak, which is something that always occurred when I used a tampon for more than half an hour. BUT MAYBE I’M JUST INCOMPETENT.

    On lighter days, I’d go to the bathroom maybe twice every 10 hours and that’s just to check if I leaked–– which wasn’t usually the case.On my heavier day (usually the second day), it’s a different story. Using a pad/tampon I’d go to the bathroom maybe 5 times every 10 hours. Using an MC I’d go around 3-4, which really isn’t that big difference. Again, I’d like to share that I’m still relatively new to using one so this might lessen with time.

  5. Suited for active lifestyles
    I had no problems using it while I went for a run or for the one time I went swimming. I didn’t have to worry about hygiene (as much as I usually do) and changing it out right after a run as I would with a pad and I didn’t worry about leaking as I would with a tampon.

Cons:
I’m going to be real with you. As great as I believe MCs to be, there were a few cons I want to address here. It is also important to note that practice and consistent usage will definitely help or solve many of these issues.

  1. Hard to Open??
    Anyone who says an MC is easy to use IS A DAMN LIAR. While the benefits outweigh the cons, you really have to become intimate with your vagina and the cup when first using it.

    The Lily Cup material is extremely soft and very malleable. For some women, this might be ideal, but this made it difficult for me to open it up once inside my vagina because my pelvic floor muscles are relatively strong (weird flex, but ok?). And in order to prevent leakage, the cup literally has to suction onto your vaginal walls and the rim has to open up from the fold you used to insert it. That being said, it was especially challenging for me as I had been a first time user and was still learning the tips and tricks of using an MC.

    The second month was a lot easier. I spent a lot less time trying to get it to open as I had a better idea of what my vagina needed. I’d say the first month I’d spend 10 minutes on average in the bathroom trying to insert the damn thing correctly. The second month, I spent 3-5 minutes. Pretty good improvement, I’d say. I am still planning to buy a brand with firmer resistance to see if it really is just the cup or if I’M JUST INCOMPETENT.

  2. Leakage???
    One of the pros of a menstrual cup is that it does not leak. Caveat: it does not leak if it’s inserted correctly. Because learning to use the cup is the upward battle, I did experience leakage my first time using it. I will say, however, that when I did leak, it was not nearly as much as when I would use a tampon–– often times, it was just some minor spotting. I’d also like to note that I only leaked on my heavier days. The second month I used it I hardly leaked at all. Because of this, I do suggest wearing a liner on your heaviest day or the first time you try one–– at least until you get used to it.
  3. Cleaning
    Using a cup requires maintenance. You can’t just use it and throw it away like you would a tampon or pad. Before and after each cycle, you have to boil the cup in water for a good 5-8 minutes. So you will have to reserve 5-8 minutes of preparation after you discover you got your period. I could have avoided this wait time if I had some foresight and prepped my MC as I got nearer to my due date rather than waiting for the day my period actually came.

I’d like to conclude this section of my MC journey by letting y’all know I will have a part 2 to this post where I answer the questions others had sent to me and share some of the tips and tricks that helped me best. Before then, feel free to leave any questions you may have or share your experiences and insights down below.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Superstitions and Ghost (?) Stories

Remember the piece I refer to in this blog post? In the spirit of October and Halloween, I decided to post it after all. 

In 5th grade, my teacher asked us if our families had any superstitions. One of my classmates responded that, according to his mom, when his bed isn’t made, his guardian angel is still sleeping. From that moment in my life, I have become vigilant in fixing my bed every morning. Now, I fix my bed out of habit, but back then I can’t deny the impact that simple statement had on me.

But superstitions weren’t anything new to me at that age. When I was younger, I would follow my dad to the field where he would excavate and dig up ancient artifacts and burials (he’s an archaeologist). One day, when he and his crew had been hunched over a skeleton, I sneezed. I didn’t think much of it. Wind and dust tend to have that effect. My mom had a different thought. Without a moment’s hesitation, she pinch my ear hard. A moment after, she explained to me that sneezing in front of a dead body meant that their spirit wanted you to accompany them in the afterlife. During that time, my mom’s word was law. I found myself pinching my ear every. time. I sneezed for fear that there would be a dead body nearby.

When my aunt and my oldest sister became pregnant, I remember seeing them wrap a scarf over their head or wear a hat out at night so the moon wouldn’t steal their baby.

In middle school, my classmate told me never to place my bed across the door because that invites strangers in.

On the less morbid side, every New Year the house had to be impeccable, not an item out of place because a clean house on New Year’s Day meant a clean house the whole year (of course this was proven false time and time again). I also had to wear polkadots and have fruit on the table for good luck.

When I was younger, I not only believed these superstitions, I enjoyed them. They were fun. My friends and I would sit at the lunch table and exchange these traditions and ghost stories that– at least on my end– weren’t true but entertaining. Now that I’m older and relatively wiser and now that I’ve explored more of the world and science, I’ve let go of nearly all those superstitions and learned how to rationalize seemingly “paranormal” occurrences. I could care less if a black cat walks in my path. In fact, my favorite number is 13. Just yesterday, my speakers flew (literally) off my table twice, but I thought nothing of it. I see these events as more curious than scary.

Regardless, while I do believe that everything has some sort of explanation, I thought it would be fun to share some of the weird shit that has happened to me and cannot be explained by science… yet!

  1. Pennies

Earlier last year, I started noticing pennies. Some of you might not think this is weird. In fact, I didn’t think anything of it until it became so frequent that I couldn’t ignore it. I know. I know. “Everyone finds loose change. Who cares?” While this is true, what everyone doesn’t find is a single penny, every morning without failin the same exact place– right beside my car before I drive to school every day. Each morning, I’d pick up the penny and place it in my pocket just to make sure I wasn’t seeing the same one. I can rule out my parents for playing prank on me because they wouldn’t waste their time and I doubt my neighbors would do that because we go through large lengths to ignore each other.

Anyways, as weird as it sounds, whenever I found a penny, I would have a really good day. But one the few days there wouldn’t be one, something bad would happen. Placebo? Maybe. Who knows? I didn’t think anything more of it and since then, I haven’t come across any wayward pennies.

But just recently, I clicked a YouTube video uploaded by a girl I was subscribed to who was talking about a haunted house she lived in. She provided a snippet of an article of “supernatural” signs. I skimmed over the blurb and the word “penny” caught my attention. This caused me to search up on this penny phenomenon which, until that moment, I thought was completely unique to me. Upon some shallow research, I found that pennies are supposedly conduits for spirits to communicate or connect with the living. It has something to do with copper being an accessible metal to them and what not. Finding pennies is also said to be a good omen– often a sign that the one finding them is being watched over by a spirit or guardian. Can’t say I’m 100% sold on the idea, but hey! I need all the good luck and watching over I can get.

  1. Moving Objects – Is my house haunted?

Occasionally, random items in my house will fall off or move from their original positions. Mind you, these are items that have been stationary for a while. Objects would be in one part of the house one day and a different part the next.

I remember one specific moment when my dad and I were relaxing downstairs watching TV in the living room. Connected to the living room is our study, which has sliding doors. While my dad and I were watching, one of the doors decided to slide close. My dad and I looked at each other knowing full well that neither of us had moved an inch and no one was in the study. His eyes got wide for a moment before he shrugged and continued watching TV. That was it! And because I was at an impressionable age and because my dad was my hero, I did exactly what he did and ignored it. This, more or less, sums up my attitude towards the “supernatural.”

  1. Ghost Bell

In grade school, my mom bought me a generic doorbell for my birthday– which really didn’t matter in the end because my parents always walked in my room without knocking anyways. This doorbell was awesome! It was cheap and played an annoying tune, but I loved it. It had two parts: the speaker and the bell. The speaker was taped to my wall and the bell was placed outside bedroom door. Overtime, I outgrew it. It had been years when I last used it and the button eventually broke. I threw it away, but the speaker was still pasted on my wall.

Years and years later, however, probably when I was an upperclassman in high school, the speaker went off while I was in my living room. I went up to my room and saw the flashing lights of the doorbell and pulled it off my wall. It wouldn’t stop ringing so I opened the back to remove the batteries, but only two of the four required double AA batteries were there. Weirded out, I pulled out the rest of the batteries and it grew silent once more. I went back downstairs but moments later, I hear the familiar tune once more and go up to find the doorbell in my trash can, singing away. It was at this moment that I slammed my foot on the speaker and silenced the bell forever. I continued cleaning.

  1. Weird Sightings

While I have seen humanoid figures around my house, I’ve never seen a figure substantial enough to ever assume it was more than my imagination. However, my mom shared a story with me earlier this year of seeing an apparition. Let me just begin by explaining that my mom does laundry at night and that our washer and dryer are in an outside area of our house. One night, she told me that she had been washing clothes late at night when she heard a little girl’s laugh. She turns around and sees a flash of what she thinks is a little girl running past her. Keep in mind that this is probably around 10 at night. What would a little girl be doing running around late at night by herself?

  1. Dreams of my Grandparents

In high school, my lola passed away. Though I didn’t see her more than once a year (considering she lived in the Philippines), she had been the one who accompanied me to Guam when I was adopted. I love(d) her! She was kind, she was intelligent, and she would give the best hugs. One night, I went to sleep and dreamed that my lola had visited me in my room. This was odd because I occasionally have dreams of my house, but it’s never my house. It’s always a different setting but my dream self recognizes it as my home. This time, though, the layout was exactly that of my actual house. In the dream, I walk my lola downstairs and accompany her outside where she hugs me goodbye. Then she gets on a carriage (hella symbolic) with another old lady sitting on the other end of the seat and it flies away.

I woke up with question marks in my head, but didn’t think about it until my mom came to me that day and told me that my lola had passed away in her sleep. I can’t say I wish to be haunted, but I won’t deny that– if that had been her visiting me in my dreams– I was incredibly touched.

Let’s go back a year before to when my lolo had passed away. I flew back to the Philippines to attend his funeral and one night I woke up and saw a vague shadow of  a man at the edge of the bed. As someone who had an active imagination growing up, I told myself it was nothing. I forced myself to go to sleep and act as if it was the items in the room arranging themselves into humanoid shadows. The next day, I got extremely sick. I should mention that a few days prior my cousin had dreamt of our lolo and got sick as well. We were the only ones with fevers that came out of nowhere. My aunt called a witch doctor who chanted a few things, massaged my arms and pinned ginger on me and within a few hours, I felt completely healed. According to my family, my cousin and I had been visited by my lolo. Why us? Who knows? But we’ve both been told that we’re sensitive to those kind of things.

There are a few more stories I have that I find bizarre, but I won’t bore you guys with an influx of stories that require more context than they’re worth.  While I find stories like these fun and extremely entertaining, I can’t say that I’m quite a believer. But I can’t say that I’m a complete disbeliever either.

So what do you guys make of all this? Are you convinced? On the fence? Still denying anything to do with the supernatural? What are your superstitions or experiences? Do you have any explanations? I’d love to hear them!

Graduation, Lactose Intolerance, and Vomiting in My Car– some minor and major life updates for ya

Given that my last post was months ago, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that life has been pretty hectic lately. So here are some minor updates followed by a few major ones.

Minor Updates: 

  1. I’ve developed an intolerance to lactose
    Apparently this is a common occurrence for Asians and I’m still pretty pissed off about it.
  2. I recently presented The Secrets to Success at the Sigma Tau Delta International Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio
  3. I picked up crocheting
  4. My current goal is to crochet a queen sized blanket using the waffle stitch pattern.
  5. My friend threw up in my car
    Yes; we’re still friends.
  6. I’ve downloaded Clash of Clans all for the purpose of destroying my girlfriend’s home base.
    I’m looking for a clan. Hit me up if you need a new member!

Major (?) Updates:

  1. I got a tattoo
    I chose my adoption date. I knew that my first tattoo would have to be something special to me. This date is a constant reminder of how fortunate and blessed I am.
    IMG_1958
    I actually got this tattoo a while back– let’s say around October of 2017– and only a handful of people know about it. It was never something I really wanted to flaunt.Also, my parents don’t even know and they would kill me. (Sorry mom & dad!!)
  2. I have a girlfriend
    To many, this has been a surprise considering I had only dated men in the past and I’ve received a lot of questions about my relationship; but I don’t want to make this update about the fact that I’m dating a girl. As my wise friend, Tamar, once stated: “Differentiating this relationship from others solely because of gender would only detach it from the conversation about relationship norms.” What I want to focus on instead is how healthy this relationship has been thus far and how it has changed both me and my partner in better ways.But I’ll talk more about this in another post.

     

  3. I’m graduating in a month
    It’s funny. When I first started my journey towards my B.A. I couldn’t wait to finish and get it all over with. Yet, here I am with the finish line in sight and no definite idea of what to do next.

    Will I go to grad school right away? Maybe.
    One year hiatus? Possibly.
    Continue with Literature? Debating.
    Finally finish that novel I started? That would be ideal.The point is, I don’t really know yet & I’m sloooooooOOOOOooowly (very, very slowly) realizing that that’s okay. I’ve come to understand that the sadness and ocean of hopelessness that I’ve been feeling over the past few semesters were a product of all the pressure I’ve been putting on myself to know– to know everything and to know it all right now.  To know what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do what I want to do before I even know what it is I want to do. But as Lily once said on season 4 of How I Met Your Mother:

    “You can’t design your life like a building. It doesn’t work that way. You just have to live it and it’ll design itself.”

    This is not to say that I’ve completely abandoned all recourse for responsible action or that I have now become a passive participant in my own life; rather, I’m teaching myself to trust in my own abilities more and to know that I can make the best of whatever comes my way.

    Anyways, enough of the life lesson. What I really wanted to share was that I’m graduating May 20th with a degree in Literature and a minor in Writing. My very tentative plan is to pursue a Masters in Literature with a focus on ethnic literature (specifically Latinx literature) within the next 5 years. Hopefully get more serious about publishing, and eventually retire with a house filled with large windows and pets.

    In a nutshell, this has been my life for the past few months. Granted, I can’t detail every notable moment, nor would I ever want to bore you with that, but I hope some of these updates have been interesting or relatable in some way.

    I know I haven’t been great at keeping my blog updated, but that will change! So let’s talk! As always,  please feel free to offer any constructive criticism, comments, or suggestions on what you’d like to see me post about next.

    Happy Reading!