Every morning, before Riley wakes up and my day starts, I sit in bed with my laptop and write. At first, I usually do what I call my Morning Brain Vomit aka I write non-stop for five minutes or until my brain is purged of its initial thoughts. Then I’m ready to tackle whatever fiction project I’m working on.
Lately, I’ve been doling my time out between two main writing projects: A collection of short stories centering on an S&M Dungeon, and a novel about three generations of Filipino-Americans. I’m also revising three completed novels (one about a family living on an island of criminals; one about a family’s mysterious boarder; and one about a family living in the heartland of America).
The more I write, the more I realize just how fixated I am on the idea of family. All my life, it’s been me and my younger brother, figuring shit out, teaching each other, tackling our parents’ marriage and personal issues, and helping each other survive. We have plenty of first cousins, and plenty more of not-so-first cousins, but we never fostered tight relationships with any of them. Age and distance played big parts in our inability to vibe. Our parents’ reluctance to show their true colors played even bigger parts.
Now that we’re living in the Philippines and seeing our dad’s side of the family more often, there have been many revelations. So many parts of my personality that were seemingly untied to my heritage can now be confidently ascribed to my lineage.
My bad-ass-ness? Many of my dad’s side have had bad-ass tendencies, i.e., criminal tendencies and aggressive behavior. My natural openness? Many in my dad’s side wear their hearts on their sleeves and share altogether too much with perfect strangers. My ability to work any social situation in my favor? My dad’s side can win awards for talking people into doing all kinds of ridiculous shit. For real. They’ve got it like that. Natural con artists, the whole lot.
It feels so good to place all of the parts of me on a map and see where they’ve come from and where they’re likely headed. It feels even better to be able to do so, and vibe with similar personalities, and know that we are the same. I feel like now, after getting to know so many of my relatives, I can really owe up to and claim all the different parts of me. And not only that, but others can owe up and claim those parts of me as well. I feel connected, understood, and valued in a way I’ve never felt before. This right here is Reason #2 on the list of Why We Moved to The Philippines in The First Place.