*This was originally posted on November 17, 2016 in my former blog.
The inevitable has happened: I got invited to my high school reunion. That means that ten years—an entire decade—has passed since I identified as a Menlo-Atherton bear. My immediate reaction was: damn, I’m old. Then, the questions that I’m afraid to answer: What the hell have I accomplished in these past ten years? What do I have to show for myself? Oh boy, here we go.
- I have a college degree. Yay! After years of hearing statistic after statistic telling me that I was doomed to get knocked up, drop out of high school, and never really amount to anything because I was Mexican, a woman, an immigrant, grew up in East Palo Alto, and was poor—basically, I was fucked all around—I somehow managed to put myself through college and got my Bachelor’s degree.
- I majored in something that I love: English. (No, not English Lit. Sorry, but I just didn’t have time to read all those books.) Lots of people come to the terrible realization that they didn’t actually follow their passion and only majored in a particular subject to make their families happy or to make money. Not this girl. I knew there was a strong possibility that I would never become the next J.K. Rowling, that I would be poor, and that I would live with my parents forever because the Bay Area is ridiculously expensive, but none of that mattered and my hardworking Mexican parents would totally understand because the important thing is that I followed my heart. (By the way, my parents really are confused about why I don’t have a successful book series and a movie franchise already.)
- I’ve been on a plane. I never thought I would have the opportunity to travel, but I was finally able to when I graduated college. So far, I’ve been to Portland, Las Vegas, and Uruapan in Mexico. Take that annoying rich kids in my Freshman class who bragged about how many places they had traveled to like Europe and Africa and then China “just because.”
- I’m a published writer. Many of my articles have been published in the newspaper and a handful have even been on the front page. Some of the articles are in Spanish as well. I’m glad that I have had the opportunity to work for the East Palo Alto Today newspaper. It has also given my parents the opportunity to say, “oh, THAT’S what she does” while also giving them physical evidence of my work.
- I speak now. I’ve even been on local TV, three times. WHAT. I was a shy person. Like, VERY shy. Like, I’m sure if I looked it up, I would find that I may have had social anxiety and it may have actually dated back to when I was a kid, but I wouldn’t have known that because Mexicans don’t believe in mental illnesses. And yes, I was in the Varsity Cheerleading Squad for ONE year, but cheering in front of a large crowd didn’t seem nearly as scary as talking in basically any other situation. Anyone become a psychologist?
- I have an adorable cat named Little Cat Fluffy Marshmallow and he’s my baby. Actually, he was the family cat and then my mom decided to drop him off at my apartment one day and said, “he’s yours now,” so that I wouldn’t be “alone.” Now instead of walking around in my underwear in the privacy of my own apartment, I have this cute cat to stare at me and follow me everywhere I go (yeah, even in the bathroom). The point is, some people might have kids, but guess what? I’m totally capable of keeping another living thing alive too.
- I cook. Pizza is still my weakness, but I learned that I can’t eat it all the time if I want to live forever. I write down healthy-ish meal ideas and then I make a grocery list and then I look at prices and coupons and then I meal prep. Totally legit, adult stuff. I also learned to cook some of my mom’s recipes because she’s a Mexican Martha Stewart.
- I know my drinking limit. Hey, this is an important one. If you don’t know your drinking limit, you’re asking for trouble. I learned that the hard way. And then I learned it again. And again. And—you get the point. For the longest time, I kept trying to keep up with everyone else, but I’m a LOT smaller than everyone else, so no, I can’t take shots with you because seriously, how am I still alive?
- I bought myself a laptop (old now by tech standards), a new car (not that expensive), and I have my own two-bedroom apartment (through work). HOLD ON. This sounds materialistic at first, but this has only happened in the last few years. I grew up poor and with very limited opportunities. I’m the oldest child which meant I was pretty much on my own for most things. I honestly thought it would be nearly impossible to get to where I am today after high school. I paid for my own college tuition and I couldn’t afford to move into the dorms. In high school, someone donated a computer to me and I didn’t know how to use it, but I was too embarrassed to ask for help because then people would know that I hadn’t owned lots of computers before. I was also embarrassed back then because I actually needed that free lunch program and we were one of those families that received free food every year during the canned food drives. (PSA: donate stuff you would actually eat in your own home. Canned caviar and sardines? C’mon people.) I worked my ass off and I saved as an adult so that I could finally buy myself things that a lot of other people had in high school.
- I learned to not give a fuck and just be me…after giving too many fucks and doing really stupid shit to try to gain the wrong kind of love from the wrong kind of people and making a complete fool of myself. These are a few things I have discovered about myself: I found my voice and it likes to curse a lot. Actually, I’ve been cursing since I was in elementary school, but don’t tell my parents. Legolas and Aragorn are still my #MCM. I only buy veggie pasta. I’m usually listening to The Strokes playlist or the Bubblegum Pop playlist on Pandora. Law and Order: SVU for life! Even though I’ve been royally fucked over, I still believe that most people are good. Sometimes, I have a dark sense of humor. I like to walk around in my underwear/naked in my apartment. Sometimes I cook vegan dishes. I’m not vegan—it just tastes good. The only reason I haven’t chopped off my ex-boyfriend’s balls off yet is because I still haven’t figured out a way to do it without getting into any legal trouble. I’m KIDDING…Anyone become a badass attorney? Lastly, picturing my cat randomly floating into the air due to magical or demon possession reasons and seeing his confused little face be all, “uhh what’s happening?” and me being like, “Little Marshmallow cat dafuq you doin’ up there? Get back down here,” and then me jumping up trying to catch him as he floats away crying because I can’t reach him cracks me up every single time.