POETRY | i am swimming in your love

i can pinpoint exactly when it was that i fell in love with you 

it was when we first brushed up against each other

you almost kissed me, and i turned away

because i knew this time it was different

that you would take me places i couldn’t even imagine

discover parts of myself i had spent so long covering up

your embrace has always been my safety

your whispers still swirl around me 
your tongue grazes itself against my skin

and that feeling never left

you make it easy to be me, and easy to be us

i’ve never been at greater peace with myself than when i’m with you
-Laiseng Saechao, 8.15.2016

POETRY | inhale

you feel like the deepest inhale i will ever take

filling my lungs entirely, deeply, intentionally

a reminder of how much life i have to live and how much tenderness i have to offer

the way you cradle your hand against my face, and whisper i love you

that is what i want the universe to reverberate even when we are gone

-Laiseng Saechao, 6.9.2016

BLOG | WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE MATTERS TO ME

The framing for my whole life up until my second semester first year of college was all in the progress narrative.

I remember being in first grade at Dover Elementary. My grandmother used to walk me three blocks from my aunts house, and I remember when I had my first crush on a boy who spun me too quickly and let go. This resulted in a bump the size of a giant plum on my head, and I still remember hiding that bump during bath time when my mom came home late from work, exhausted, but with so much patience and love for me.

I also distinctly remember giving my first speech, wow these things start young, when I practiced spelling the words success for weeks trying to simply memorize exactly what it was without any understanding of what it meant. It was calculated, simple, and at some point thoughtless. S U C C E S S. Coming from Richmond and having this deep sense of craving for accomplishment and perfection meant that so much of what I was supposed to do in order to succeed, meant leaving everything behind and disconnecting from everything I knew. What do I mean by this? Well, for me, it meant hearing from consultants and advisers that I should assimilate more and just pass. Pass for who, you ask? It is particularly in this question that I find my love for politics.

When they asked me to just blend in it also meant blend out certain parts of myself. I started learning Spanish, which quickly replaced my Mien. I knew which side to place the forks, spoons, and knives, and did not know how to put on any of the Mien clothes that were sitting in an old luggage tucked away in my mom’s closet. I was told that my parents would be so proud of me if I could just make it out of this city, and make it to bright lights and city dreams turned realities. When we say make it out, where are we going? It is particularly in this question that I find my love for politics.

So you can imagine what it must be like to grow up with a world boxed and labeled specifically for you, and what it must feel like the moment when you run into the edges and realize there is nowhere else to go. You hit empty, and lost. You search for meaning and purpose and come to realize that there aren’t enough pieces of encouragement, not nearly enough advice to fill the voids because you, you are caged. It is only when you hit the boundaries do you even know they exist. It is only you who can let in the darkness and lightness. When you are standing, at the crux of freedom and restraint, what do you do? It is particularly in this question that I find my love for politics.

This isn’t a blog post about being trapped and giving up. It’s a blog post about me and everything that I touch, face, interact, and connect with. This story is about where I was, where I am, and where I go. This story is about my first time walking into a space that would change my life, the way I stayed up late with a community trying to wrap my head around hegemony and neoliberalism. It is about the way I learned about patriarchy and I understood the first time a boy let go of my hand, and the last. It is about the way I knew I would have to redefine success not in the bookends that were given to me. This story is about community, and love. This story is about resiliency, and strength. This story is about learning the importance of the head, the heart, and the hand.

So here we have it, why environmental justice matters to me? All I have to say is that it isĀ  the place that you live, work, and play. For me, it could have easily meant outside of Richmond in the big city. Yet, I recognize that what left me feeling empty in the crowded streets were people I loved. And those people were living with fear of oil refinery explosions, and health impacts so severe they’d change life forever. You never forget the way tears trickle down your face as you hear from a loved one that it is cancer. You can be the first to graduate from college in your family thinking you’ve been given incredible opportunity by people invested in educational access and equality– and you can imagine that you would feel blessed and thankful and like you’ve finally made it. However, what equality is one that is given to some and not others? Equality yes, equity no.

When I imagine where I live, work, and play in this very moment… I see something different that what I had imagined back when I spelled out success in first grade. That it is a place that matters– a place that has community, and family. And that is something worth protecting, because the success that leaves all of that behind is not one I am interested in achieving. So what matters to you, and why you do exactly it is that you do? It is particularly in this question that I find my love for politics, and where I find my love for being an activist interested in the intersectionalities of many oppressions. I am choosing to fight for healthy communities. That is my practice, what is yours?

FOOD FOR THE SOUL | IPPUKU BERKELEY, CA

   
 
Ippuku in Berkeley has quickly become a new favorite of mine. After being introduced to it last month, I brought my cousin here for the Japanese small plates, and drinks. Although I’m convinced my grapefruit cocktail was more like grapefruit juice and water, it was still refreshing and delicious. I also love the idea of small plates so that you can have lots of different options and not stuff yourself to the brim. Ordering a few dishes is perfect! It’s a must try, and those who are brave can try raw chicken. Although I’m not sure what percentage of people end up with salmonella or with food poisoning going that route. I can say that all the cooked things I have tried are all simple and delicious, and it helps that the spot is adorable. A must try. 

BLOG | REINVENT YOURSELF

  
Last week I went through and deleted all of my old Instagram photos. I normally go through the photos on it and reflect about the moment I was in. I realized that although it’s great to reflect on where you’ve been, you also have to give yourself enough space to create, and build. I do think that sometimes the constant reminders of the past keep me stuck… stagnant. For this reason, I dedicated all of my new posts to the theme of “reinventing myself”. I’ve realized that it is so important to know yourself, and make goals for you to work towards. I believe that I now have a serious goal to work towards and I absolutely love the way I’ve shaped the world around me. I’m learning to stop living in the past, and cherish the moments I do have. This year is all about reinvention– what I will be like, I have no idea. But I do like where I’m headed, and I’m excited to see what the future has in store.

BLOG | DOWNTOWN SHENANIGANS & INSIDE OUT

Today I had meetings to attend in Downtown Oakland, and afterwards I spent the day with Audrey working at a local cafe. It was a productive block of time, and I finished a lot of work that I needed to get settled (mini accomplishments are the best). After going with her to pick up her hemmed dress, we got on BART together and headed home. After a long day of working I decided to have dinner with Marilen and Kevin and we watched (drum roll please) INSIDE OUT! I almost had a brain freeze/stomach freeze from chugging my Mexican Bulldog and we rushed over to see the movie. Can I just take this time to say that this movie was fantastic? I thought it was so incredibly adorable and had really important themes about the need for all of the emotions, and how complicated feelings can be. I think we often get so caught up in trying to simplify our feelings when in fact it is so much more complex than that.

This is especially relevant to me because this past year has been quite a difficult one health wise– not just for me, but for my family. For this reason, I often feel sad and angry at the world for what has happened, but also incredibly grateful for life. It often seems like I can’t quite explain myself to other friends and family because I’m constantly in this limbo of never knowing exactly how I feel. Sometimes I’m okay, and sometimes I’m not. However, I think there is some beauty in not having everything figured out. When will we ever? So I guess it’s just something we need to be comfortable with… the comfort that everything is continuously changing and moving and we just need to hold on for the ride and hope for the best. And in times of need, when we feel weak and hopeless, we look to those we love to see the small glimmers of joy. Yet, we don’t always have to be happy. When I was younger my mom used to tell me that it was okay to cry, to cry it all out. She told me that if I felt sad, I’d feel so much better after a cathartic release of sadness– and you know what, she was totally right. So my advice? From one of the wisest women I have ever known, it’s okay to cry and to feel things completely if that is what is genuine and authentic because it just means building a stronger you every step of the way.