Turning Into a Real Housewife of Orange County

15 Feb

I promise this will be my last whiny and guilt-ridden post, as I have vowed to practice self-love this Valentine’s Day. After feeling bad about not doing anything meaningful or courageous since I moved to Orange County, I tried to pull myself out of this rut.

First, I wanted to use my time more productively so I started knitting again. What better way to use my commute hours? I’m a terrible knitter, but it’s a big deal for me to make something with my own hands and, 21,500 stitches and 2 months later, this scarf is indeed a labor of love.

Next, I started getting to know local organizations. I hadn’t done much since the one fundraising dinner I attended back in September. I checked out Common Ground, a monthly open mic hosted by the Vietnamese Arts and Letters Association in Santa Ana that leans progressive and features mostly young Asian American artists. I attended a gathering of the California Young Women’s Collaborative, a college-based class sponsored by NAPAWF that teaches Asian and Pacific Islander students about reproductive justice and how to gather data about the reproductive health of our communities. I looked up the date of Coastal Clean-Up Day, thinking that was something my partner and I could do together.

Finally, I signed up for the Orange County half marathon because it seems that I can’t get myself to be healthier without the motivation of a race that I paid a lot of money for. And since I ran half marathons in San Francisco, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and Oakland while I lived in the Bay, it seemed only fitting to run this in honor of my new residency.

I was feeling all proud of myself…but my self-satisfaction was short-lived. It suddenly occurred to me, not only am I turning into an OC’er, I’m now turning into the worst kind of OC’er: the real housewife. An active and ambitious woman who uses her excess energy and privileges, not to fight for justice or do something meaningful that might actually alter her comfortable lifestyle, but to create home crafts and exercise.

I cannot tell you how many moms here spend all their free time looking good and creating impeccable home décor. Who sweat buckets in spin class and make homemade treats for their children’s classrooms. Who take boot camp classes at the beach and replicate beautiful Christmas trees out of catalogs. I’m not saying this is bad. It’s not. But it can be if that’s all you do. My efforts to “be active” are starting to look like an act of narcissism.

I’ve been thinking about risk a lot lately. As you can see from my above activities, I’m pretty risk-averse (hello knitting-a-rectangle-and-counting-that-as-“meaningful” and running-the-same-race-five-times-and-counting-that-as-“motivating”). But I suspect that’s what might hold the key to getting me out of this rut. I’ve been asking myself, What am I willing to risk to live a life I believe in? What do I want so badly that it’s worth risking what I have?


2 Responses to “Turning Into a Real Housewife of Orange County”

  1. bonnie February 15, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Hi Priscilla. Sounds like you’re not talking about doing social justice work, so much as you’re talking about figuring out how to feel happy and satisfied — which is its own courageous, deeply personal, deeply political work. And whether it involves knitting, running, a dance class, or a bigger change, I think the world would be a better place with a Priscilla who’s content in her own mind and body.

    For myself, and for many friends I know, it was hard to think about how to affect change in the world (or to truly want to) without first attending to ourselves. Starting therapy, quitting my job, starting photography classes, traveling, learning new things, working on my relationships and my home — those were all some of the most courageous, loving things I’ve ever done… for myself, for the people I love, and for the people who love me.

    Glad to follow along with you on this journey.

    • cil1977 February 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

      I heart you, Bonnie. Thank you for helping put my efforts into perspective and reminding me to not feel guilty about taking time for myself.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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