Eclectic

My mother calls me an “eclectic”

At first, I thought she said “electric”

As if I were a robot

Or some household appliance

With some manufacturer’s label

Describing exactly how to

Heat the food

Wash the dishes

Print that five page report that was due yesterday

What I was made of

Every function, component, and detail precise.

But she had said “eclectic”

Meaning I would love both rock and pop music

I would read everything from the newspaper

To the sci-fi novels about interstellar travel

To the picture books about magic chickens.

Meaning I would pair frilly tops with cargo pants

And I wanted that clean, slick look of modern décor

But adored the rustic, rough edge of vintage.

Meaning I would look for meaning

In cells

In the stars

In the pages of books

In my mind

And in my heart.

Meaning I wouldn’t be satisfied with just one.

“Eclectic” meant that I was born here

On the other side of the world

Far away from anything that resembled

The Filipino of my face.

Far away from a mother tongue.

Closer to the stereotyped

Maple syrup blood and politeness

Than the miles of rice and heat and dust.

Meaning that when I reached out west for the orient

I came back with eyes full

Of animated demons, and magical girls

Who would twirl their wands and save the universe.

I reached west for the orient

And came back with hands full of objects

Stamped with “made in China.”

I reached west for the orient

And found myself wrapped in clothes neither foreign or native

Eating food that was neither native nor foreign

Celebrating something I didn’t understand.

I reached west for the orient

Reached west for the orient

Reached west

Reaching so far west

That I had missed the orient entirely

And instead found mystical figures

With animal heads on human bodies

With control over the skies, and the sea, and the dead.

But like electronics, I was stamped

Skin tone

Eye colour

Facial features

My own name.

Oh, you’re Filipino?

Last name? Ah, good family. Knew your Lolo.

You speak?

No?

Born here?

Well, you should learn.

You cook?

Good. Good. Learn the native foods.

Native foods.

Made with fish that was imported frozen

Made with vegetables that wouldn’t survive the cold

Made with flavored powder that looked indiscernible from the sandy beaches

That the food was “native” of.

Native. What a tricky word.

When handed a “Check one box”

I stumbled

Between what I looked like

And where I was born.

Between what I ate

And a language I couldn’t understand.

Born in country that embraces origins

How can you bring something

That is already there?

“Bring a history,” they said,

I don’t have one yet.

“We are multicultural,” they claimed,

Well, so am I.

My mother calls me an eclectic.

Sometimes I wish she had meant “electric”

With the functions, components, and details

Written clearly on a label.

***

This wonderful, wonderful poem is by Leanna who blogs at Short Story Long Blog. She writes the most comprehensive book reviews. Do check her blog out! I’m sure she’ll love comments and appreciation here or on her blog 🙂

The prompt chosen by Leanna was the word ‘eclectic’.

Diary of an Introverted Schmuck completed a year on the first of April. To make a big deal out of my Blog Birthday, I asked some friends of mine to guest post here. Leanna’s poem is the first post and I’m so grateful to her for agreeing to write something. You rock, Leanna!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. leannaatc
    Apr 04, 2015 @ 03:46:29

    Hey Mia I have a surprise. Remember that recording that I sent you? Well here it is: https://youtu.be/30TZTWMUCyY. I know you wanted to add it to the post, so I quickly turned it into a youtube video that you can embed.

    Here’s to one year of blogging! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Trackback: IT’S MY BLOG BIRTHDAY!!! | Diary of an Introverted Schmuck

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