No Reason

I have, for no reason whatsoever, refreshed myself on the multitude of possible factors that possibly contributed to the Fall of the Roman Empire. There are no particular events happening in my personal experience, confirmed by the shared experience of those around me, driving this sudden interest in the topic.

I am simply marveling at history.

Here is a short list of factors, that again, are listed for no particular reason.

  • Economic troubles and over reliance on slave labor
  • Over-expansion and military overspending
  • The end of the Roman Climatic Optimum (Their climate changed!)
  • Connectivity of their cities encouraged the spread of what we now consider easily preventable diseases
  • Growing social divisions and gross inequality

Fascinating!

// Roman Climatic Optimum is the name of my 1980s Transformers themed Cover Band 

It’s Nice

So recently, as in less than a week ago, my mother moved Here. I say that because it is literally seven floors below where I’m typing this out right now. This is the closest my mother has been, for a sustained period of time, in a long time.

With Mom here, I’m learning and relearning a lot of things.

How to set boundaries and reset them.

She said something the other day, a single statement from her that has me remembering my childhood and how I grew up. I guess that is inevitable when your mother comes to live in the same building.

I grew up in San Diego. More accurately, I grew up in a Filipino neighborhood named Paradise Hills. While there are, in fact hills, the location is not exactly somewhere Kubla Khan would a stately pleasure-dome decree.

That is not to say the neighborhood was bad. I have many fond memories of the neighborhood.

Rolling around on a really fast tricycle and skidding out in a cul-de-sac. Filipino barbecue, sweet and fatty and laid on top of a what I now consider to be a disconcerting amount of rice. The mom and pop Nintendo Cartridge Rental place that was absolutely not legal. Jumping dirt ramps at the end of the lane on my bike.

My first kiss, both awkward and honest in a 1984 Volkswagen Jetta.

And then there are the memories that I do not share with most friends. I never actively made the choice to hide them away or not share them. Maybe in some way, I was scared to be different. None of these memories matched up with what I had seen on TV or what my friends talked about when they recalled their childhood.

The questionable open casket funeral for my babysitter’s grandson—considering his violent death. The bent bars and broken drywall from that time someone tried to break in through my bedroom window. My bike being stolen. My skateboard being stolen.

Visiting a schoolmate and then looking at the bullet holes in the family room behind the television because someone definitely got an address wrong.

There are other hidden memories in this category, but with time and distance they had become hazy and unreal.

So when I talk to my mother and ask her what she likes the most about the new building, and she responds,

“It’s nice. Everything is locked.”

Those words confirm these memories, bring them into a sharper focus. They are my experience growing up as a child in America, and I have only just started to realize that they are just as important as anyone else’s.

// I blame the Xanadu reference on Twitter

Any Amount

It is ten-thirty in the evening and my phone is ringing, which is not usually an indicator that things are going well.

It is the Front Desk Clerk telling me that a neighbor has reported that my car’s brake lights are on for some reason.

I grab a pair of pants and a hoodie, go downstairs and verify that they are, indeed on. Not the way I left them.

After about thirty minutes of troubleshooting, I decide that the best course of action was to pull the wiring from each individual brake light, since I had access to the trunk. The better call would have been to disconnect the battery, but I was downstairs in pajamas with no tools. Satisfied that the brake lights would no longer drain the battery (but now suddenly anxious that pulling the individual brake light connections would cause a fire somehow) I went back upstairs.

The next morning, I search for “honda civic brake light not turning off.” I scrub through a few videos and find that this might be a simple fix—a plastic bumper that actuates the actual brake light switch had shattered.

I head downstairs with a flashlight and after a short forensics examination, find pieces of shattered plastic indicating that this might be the simple fix. I pull the panel and discover that a button on the switch is sticking through a gap in the brake pedal lever where the plastic tab would sit.

After heading back upstairs to pack up tools, tape, and some nickels—thanks again internet!—I was able to get the car to a state I was happy with. Brake lights functional, car starts, battery no longer draining, and car could be used in a pinch. Ordered the replacement part and then went about the rest of the day.

Thursday the part came and a short time later the plastic bumper was replaced.

Car fixed.

Thank you kind neighbor, I owe you a coffee for saving me a dead battery surprise.

Thank you internet, for providing a literal stop-button-from-going-through-a-gap solution.

“There is no use in quantifying the amount of help you give, any amount is enough.”

Ghost, Destiny 2: Beyond Light
// to be honest I didn't expect that quote either.

Protected: And the days go by

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Where to Start Again?

Where to begin?

At the beginning? From my birth?

My parents are from the Philippines and I acknowledge there is a whole wealth of knowledge, and culture, and life histories that contributed to who I am.

But reciting from memory, I feel like I don’t know a lot.

A short and incomplete list off the top of my head:

The Aswang. Lapu-Lapu. 400 Years of Spanish Oppression. The Marcos Dictatorship followed by a remarkable in its miracle of non violence People Power Revolution. Chocolate Soup. Eating a duck egg.

A smattering of embarrassing to my own ears Tagalog.

I’ve been complimented for my Tokyo accented Japanese but here I am. A world where a deceptively young looking and simultaneously matronly Filipino woman clicks her tongue, shakes her head, and simply says, “Sayang.”

The only thing I really know is how I got to where I am now. That part is the only reliable part. So the beginning.

Which I guess means what I know about my parents.