Are You There, god? It’s Me, Minna*

PrayingHey, you.  Guy in the sky.  Are you there?  Mom says I should pray to you and listen intently for a response.

So.  OK.  Here’s the deal.  BL snapped my bra today as I was walking into school.  He was waiting for me, and he did it in front of everybody.  He laughed as I turned red and tried to not cry.  He picks on me almost every day.  Sixth grade is hard enough.  Can you please put a pox on him?  Not a lethal or fatal one, mind you–just one that would make him leave me alone?

Oh, and while you’re at it,  could you please make JB notice me?  I’ve had a crush on him since first grade, and I’m getting a little tired of waiting for him to notice me.

And, can you make the other kids stop teasing me as well?  I know I am fat.  I don’t need them to call me “Minnesota Fats” to remind me.  Why did my parents have to name me after a state, anyway?  I just know they love my brother better because they gave him a normal first name.

Minna.  Who names their kid after a state?  That’s just wrong.  I get to hear all the derivations.

Minnesota.  Minneapolis.  Minnehaha.  Minnie Mouse.  Mini-Apple.  Minnetonka.

Those are some of the nicer ones.

I like my sixth grade teacher, Mr. B., but I wish he hadn’t come up with the slogan, Winna with Minna.   He went on a riff about it.

What do you call exercising with Minna?  Slimma with Minna.

What do you call eating with Minna?  Dinna with Minna.

What do you call wrestling with Minna?  Pinna with Minna.

I don’t need to tell you, god, do I, what the other kids did with this?

What do you call breaking the law with Minna?  Sinna with Minna.

Then, of course, there’s my last name.  Hong.  Hong Kong.  Ching Chong Chinaman.

Then, the generic chink and jap.  The pulling of the eyelids while screaming, “Slanty eyes.”  Kids telling me to go back to where I came from.  Why would they say that, god?  I was born here, in MN.  I don’t have anywhere to go back to.

Speaking of which, when are you going to answer my prayers and make me blond?  I know, I know, it’s a big change, but you’re GOD.  You created me.  Therefore, you should be able to change the way I look, right?  It’s such a small  favor to ask in the grander scheme of things.  My youth pastor told me that if god doesn’t answer my prayers, it’s because I am not praying hard enough.  I pray the same prayer every night before I go to bed.  How much more prayer will it take for you to listen?

Are you listening to me?  I don’t think you are, if you’re even there.  Why can’t you give me a sign–like turn my hair blond?  Or make me a boy?  Or make me skinny?

No?  Ok, then how about this.  Can you please make my parents stop fighting all the time?  And, make my mom stop crying over my dad.  Oh, and I would prefer not to be the recipient of her depression confessions, too.  I don’t need to hear about my father’s shortcomings from her; I can see them well enough for myself.  Oh, and can you make my dad not get so mad when he’s home?  I don’t know why he’s so angry all the time, but I really wish he weren’t.  All he does is shout or sit in stony silence when he’s home.  Maybe it’s better that he stays out until all hours of the night.

While I have you on the line, do you think you could get the big kids down the street to stop picking on my brother?  It’s not fair because there are two of them and only one of him.  Plus, they are older and bigger than he is.  They should know better, but they don’t.  And, my parents aren’t doing anything about it.

Hm.  What else?   Could you maybe find me a friend in school that I can eat with every day?  I hate lunchtime because no one ever wants to sit by me or talk to me.  It would be nice not to have to be alone, even when I’m sitting next to the other kids.

It would be nice to have a friend to play with after school as well.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I can’t seem to connect with the other kids.  I don’t know their music or their TV shows or their movies.  I don’t know anything about the things they think are important.  What’s more, I don’t know how to go about knowing anything about what they think is important.

I’m lonely, god.  It’s hard for me to get up every day.  OK, that’s partly because I read until after midnight every night after carefully placing a towel under the crack of my door so my parents can’t see the light, but that’s not all there is to it.

Is this it?  Is this all there is to life, god?  Being alone, teased, and picked on?  Watching my parents rip each other apart?  Going through life with books as my only real friends?

If so, then I don’t want it, god.  I don’t want this thing called life.  You can take it back, god.  You can take it back right now.

Are you there, god?  It’s me, Minna.

I guess you’re not there, god.  I don’t think you ever were.

*A riff on the title of a marvelous book by Judy Blume, Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret.  Since I decided that I was twelve today, I channeled my inner Judy Blume and came up with this post.

Obviously, this post is an amalgamation of many things I felt as a young girl over a long period of time.  I just chose to squish it together into one ‘prayer’.

21 Responses to Are You There, god? It’s Me, Minna*

  1. Boy did that touch a familiar nerve. Laying in bed, night after night, crying and praying for a best friend, a real friend. I was a lonely, lonely little girl, too. I still often feel like I’m on the outside of truly close friendships, looking in. I know I’m partly responsible, but it’s also my inherent weirdness.

    My name wasn’t as easy to create incredibly lame rhymes (ILRs?) for. I like your name, but I’m so sorry the stupids liked it too, for all the wrong reasons.


  2. Oooooh yeah. I can relate to a lot of this.

    I was in Catholic school…preferred the company of the boys, but they started to shun me too and I didn’t get why.

    Had my name effed with all the time.

    Constantly downplayed my intelligence because it got me ragged on too. I was so afraid of one more thing setting me apart from my peers. I had no clue how to handle it.

    I was a year younger than my peers due to skipping a grade, I was short, ugly, athletic, had no boobs, and no interest in the hair/makeup/”let’s try to snare a boy” crap. So yeah. I was a mess too.

    I had a crush on a friend when I was 12 (I was in 8th grade at the time) but no one, and I mean NO ONE ever knew about it. It would’ve been disastrous for me, and really, probably for the other person as well. Not a risk I was willing to take.

    I hated my life, hated my self and my identity, hated my family, all of it. I hated my father for being an abusive, alcoholic asshole, my mother for tolerating it, my sister for leaving for college, my brother for being an asshole and then ignoring me. I learned very early to only depend on myself, and that trust was for the stupid and the gullible.

    God, adolescence sucked ass. It amazes me that it doesn’t kill more kids’ spirits.

  3. I could totally relate to some of that.

    Binaca Baca
    ChewBaca Which became Chewey, then somehow Candy Bar.
    Baca Butt
    The list goes on.
    As I read your names, I started laughing in an awkward moment of flashback. As I kept reading I remembered more and more how fucking cruel kids can be to other kids.
    This post was another fine example of your words and how I find them comforting, even when they are talking about something so real and so painful.
    You have a gift. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Well this was entertaining! It was also a pretty familiar feeling – since I’ve ‘converted’ to atheism (I’m not sure that’s a proper usage of the term converted, in the religious sense, but I’ll go with it) religious yearning has been sort of like an existential phantom limb.

    I’m fairly certain there’s no god (I’m a 6 on Dawkins’ ‘Belief Scale’ – because a 7 would require proof of god’s non-existence, and I don’t think such a thing is possible…yet), but I still find myself having weird, random religious thoughts.

    This is probably because I’m an ex-Catholic. Catholics really know a thing or three about indoctrination, let me tell you.

    As for the name – that’s actually kind of cool. I wondered where your name came from. I asked my dad not too long ago about my given name, ‘Alejandro’, and he said I was named after my great-uncle Alejandro. When I pressed for more info about Uncle Al, I was informed that he was killed in his sleep – with a machete – for banging someone’s wife.

    Not what I was expecting, but hey…it’s a fun story to tell at weddings.

  5. Yeah – somehow I managed to not tell it at my own wedding…

    That said, I used to hate my name. Not ‘Alejandro’ (I didn’t even know that was my actual name until I was in Junior High), but the name I go by, Alex. Not sure why. I’m cool with it now, but when I was a kid I loathed it.

    I think partly it was because I got picked on for being the only Asian kid in a very hick town (‘Chinese Checker’ seemed to be the epithet of choice back then) and Alex wasn’t a common name, so it was just something else that set me apart.

    Of course, when I was old enough to really process why I was being teased I promptly dyed my hair green; at that point I was looking for an excuse to be teased just so I’d have a reason to be hostile. Mind you, this was in the early 80’s before Green Day made it fashionable, so having green hair was actually a teasing offense.

    Boy, times sure have changed…

  6. HA! So we paved the way for what they are doing now you know?
    I had black hair less than 1/8″ with orange spots in it. Kinda reverse leopard. I had so many things thrown at me from moving vehicles it wasn’t funny.
    I look at the kids today with their tats and gauges and know that even though I don’t get all of it, I helped paved the way for them to speak up and be different.
    I feel a sense of pride in that, and you should too.

  7. Choolie, hugs to the childhood you and to the adult you, too. I know what you mean about finding it difficult to accept that cool people who you respect, like, and admire feel the same way about you (I talked about this in therapy today). For what it’s worth, I think you are an amazing woman, and I am glad to call you friend (and teacher).

    Kel, you nailed it as usual. I knew we were soul sisters despite me being Asian and you being Irish. I could have written your comment, and I suspect you could have written my entry. I think many kids have their spirits crushed when they are children. That’s why there are so many fucked up adults running around.

    Still, cheers to you for surviving your childhood and becoming the fabulous woman you are today.

    Alex M., that is one hell of a story behind your name. I took it to mean that the husband killed your uncle and not the woman with whom they were both sleeping. At any rate, being killed by machete is not my preferred way to go. Dying in the saddle is, but that’s a post for another day.

    I grew up in suburbia MN before diversity was fashionable, so I know of what you speak. As for my name, my parents were grateful to the state of MN for all it gave them, so they named me after it. They couldn’t have sent a nice card or something?

    Do you have any pix of you with green hair? I would like to see that. Oh, and I think you’re balls-out awesome as well.

    whabs, I sense a recurring theme here. It’s sad that the story is the same with only the name changing from person to person. Kids are unbelievably cruel and instinctually know how to hurt someone in the meanest way possible. You are another woman whose path has mirrored mine. I am blessed to have you in my life.

    snee, yeah, I can see you as the quiet geek guy. Being ignored is lonely in its own way, though. I’m glad the inner snee has busted out of his shell. Any time you are on this side of the pond, I’ll buy you a pint. You’re quite all right by me! And, you’re a slut like me. Gotta love it.

  8. Why does everyone think I’m a slut? I’m single and finally trying to find someone is all…it’s just taking a while, and I’m having a lot of fun in the meantime.

    As for going to the US again – I’m still not sure they’d let me in – last time they held me in immigration for 24 hours, then shipped me back here…

  9. The sad thing Minna, and I thought this as I was writing…our kids learn it someplace. Being that as kids we are only emulating a lot of things to become who we become, the answer seems obvious.

  10. Kel – failed to get a green card is all 🙂

    But I DID try – I blame that fuckwit Bush who was governor of Texas at the time…

  11. Sillywabbit: Yes, I indeed have pride in my punk roots. When I was doing the office-drone thing right out of college in the mid-90’s – I remember bus-rides back to the suburbs and the derisive stares of the 13-year-olds wearing Dead Kennedys t-shirts. If only they knew 🙂

    Snee: I did it backwards – or full circle, as the case may be. I am once again the geek everyone ignores…and much happier for it, actually…

    Admin (I mean, Minna…): (blush)! I wish I did – I do have some pictures of me with an outrageous Robert Smith hairdo circa 1986. Goth-ing it up at Disneyland in Cali. Pretty silly in retrospect – all black clothes (creepers and a Bauhaus tee shirt – tee-hee!) plus half a bottle of hairspray in 90-degree weather trying my damnedest to look depressed in the Magic Kingdom. WTF was I thinking ?!?

  12. snee, um, maybe because you keep saying what a slut you are? I dunno. And hey, it’s Prez fuckwit W. to you!

    Alex M., remember your roots. Just touch them up every so often. Too bad you don’t have pics. I would love to see them! And, hey, there’s nothing wrong with all-black clothing. Nothing at all.

    whabs, oh, come on. You’re not old! You are young at heart.

  13. whabs, oh yeah? What’s so good about it?

    snee, I forgot to say, well turn about is fair play. Your country grilled me for half an hour (and my boyfriend to boot, a Sri Lankan living in the city) before reluctantly allowing me to enter the motherland.

  14. Minna – I look so little like my passport photo, I get grilled EVERY time I try to come back in the country…and always have to show secondary ID.

  15. snee, oh it was because I was Asian. They were letting everyone else in willy-nilly. This was…seventeen years ago or so. They asked what my parents did, how much money they made, etc. They asked why I was entering the motherland. I said to visit my boyfriend. They asked if he was Brit or American. I made the mistake of saying he was Sri Lankan. Yeah, not a good experience.

    whabs, this is true. I hope it was an excellent Friday for you!