About Masuimi Max
"I didn't want to get too personal here, but I couldn't find a way to write an about me without talking about the foundation, my childhood, that made me into the person I am today. I'm a collection of experiences and choices, and here is a part of my journey." - Masuimi Max, owner of I AM SIN
IN THE BEGINNING
One of my earliest memories is hanging out with my mom, sitting with her while we watched General Hospital and ate fresh strawberries dipped in whipped cream. We lived in Seoul, Korea shortly after I was born (Arkansas). A funny memory I have is taking a bath with her and playing with her giant boobs. I asked her when I'd have some and she said when I was grown up. I wanted to look like my mom, I was obsessed! We always spoke Korean to each other which would annoy my dad. He'd say in jest to speak English, "I can't tell if you guys are plotting against me" 🤣 He was a funny guy! I was a very a happy toddler, spoiled some might say.
THERE WAS DARKNESS
When my mother passed away we lived in Florida, I was 6. She had a brain tumor while pregnant with my sister and gave birth while on life support. My father pulled the plug on Valentine's day. He was in the military so he wasn't home much. Before CPS stepped in I fed and took care of my baby sister (reminder, I was 6) and would rock her to sleep in my arms every night singing "rock a bye baby". My father became a physically abusive asshole, I had multiple stepmothers, most of them hated my sister and I and one tried to shred my hand in a garbage disposal. I think when my mother passed my father should have been given leave to grieve... and some counseling. But that's not how the military works, or was.
When we moved to the Philippines it was a culture shock. My father was stationed at Clark Air Base, but decided to live off-base. He said he chose a really poor area to keep me from growing up too privileged, actual word he used was "Americanized". We didn't have hot water and had to go outside to use the hole in the ground (toilet) or bathe, and for bathing we had to use an old fashioned pump to pour water into a bucket. We used a wooden board to hand wash our clothes with Ajax bars that made my palms bleed, and it was such a bad area you could send a small child to the Sari Sari store to buy you cigarettes. There were mosquitoes and flying roaches everywhere, and an open stream of sewage that went around the house, the stench was so bad.
My father left me and my baby sister at a bar and asked the barmaid to watch us. Seriously, where the fuck was CPS? After a few months of being with this family we didn't know, my father came charging in and grabbed us like we had been kidnapped. I don't really remember what was going on, I was so young, but I remember not feeling safe.
We moved from the Philippines in 1991, after massive earthquakes and "the second-largest volcanic eruption of this century, and by far the largest eruption to affect a densely populated area, which occurred at Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991." We were evacuated out of Clark Air Base just in time, if you google the footage you can see it wiped out the base. Bear in mind we had VHS recorders back then, lol!
THEN THERE WAS LIGHT
When we got to the mainland my father shipped my sister and I to stay with my aunt in Phoenix for a few months, and my other aunt in Florida. I had a WONDERFUL time staying with my aunts, they even tried to adopt us but my father wouldn't let them because of MONEY. He was getting social security for my mothers death until we turned 18. I really enjoyed the little escape we had, we really liked living in Florida. My cousins were athletes and would take us to the pool almost every day, we could wear whatever we wanted, even a little makeup! Phoenix was fun too, my aunt owned a Japanese restaurant and a Chinese restaurant, one of my favorite memories was her paying us a quarter for each piece of sushi roll we ate because she thought we hated it. We pretended to not like it so we could get a few more quarters to buy silly putty. Such a random memory, lol! it's stuff like this that helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I realized there was a whole other life out there I could have.
BACK TO DARKNESS
This all ended when my father had us shipped back to him in Vegas. We had a new stepmother who wasn't even 21 yet, and an RV to live in temporarily until he found us a house. This was a miserable time. Living in such close quarters with an abusive father was horrible. I got a beating so bad that left me with a broken nose that never fully recovered, I still have trouble breathing. I actually had to say I fell when we went to the hospital. Writing this I can vividly remember the smell of the toilet, it seems most of my bad memories came with a bad stench.
I had a recurring nightmare that I was being electrocuted. The sensations were so intense, I'd wake up screaming because it felt so real. I had severe PTSD from my father beating me. If anyone moved abruptly around me I'd flinch or duck - reactions from being punched in the head and having the arches of my feet caned, repeatedly. I even tried to kill myself but didn't know how because I was just a kid. I just wanted to die to end the pain and join my mom.
My childhood made me appreciate what I have now and allows me a unique perspective on a lot of things. When things are difficult as an adult I think about what I went through and what I survived. Coming from a strict religious military family, I was told that most of what I wanted to do or wear would send me to hell. Black panties was a golden ticket to hell, as was... MAKEUP!!!
But also, when dealing with people who are acting shitty I imagine they are going through something painful, because why would anyone be so cruel if everything was going their way? I saw my dads perspective with losing my mom, and I saw my own being abused. I saw both sides. I learned about how cruel life could be at an early age.
I used art as therapy, and escaped into my imagination, I painted and drew a lot, I even learned how to control my dreams so I could at least enjoy my life asleep. I regret to say, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't bring anything back (like candy, ha ha) or stay asleep.
It wasn't always bad, there were moments that felt like carrots of hope dangling just when I wanted to give up. There was this one time I saw pride in my fathers eyes, when he found a dollar bill I drew by hand. It was so convincingly real he was amazed. Oh, and that one time I forged my military id so I could get on base to go to school. I was always losing my card so I made a few as backup. He was angry, but proud. Oh, and I beat up a guy in high school for calling me a Japanese whore, my dad showed up to the "Required Parent Conference" and looked at the guy and laughed. Sometimes my dad was cool.Anyway, back to makeup. I desperately wanted to extend my creativeness to changing my appearance. One Halloween, I think I was 15, my father said I could dress up and wear anything I'd like. He gave me one of those cheap clown makeup kit things, you know the ones that smell like chemicals and leave your skin super broken out? I took the kit to my room. I pulled out some old black clothing, and hand sewed my very own Cat woman costume, just like the one Michelle Pfeiffer wore in Batman Returns. Well, I think it looked like it, I have a very good imagination and we didn't have cell phone cameras and social media so who knows?
I ripped open that crappy makeup kit and went to town. I did the most wicked cat eye and used that clown red on my lips. Slipped that outfit on with black electrical tape covering my taupe colored church shoes. I walked into the living room and my father and stepmother gasped! My father yelled at me to go cover myself up and wash my face. My stepmother urged him to just let me go, I needed to take my sister and other kids trick or treating. He let me go. It was the most fantastic night of my childhood, I was allowed to be a character, a strong woman I admired from a comic book story. She was misunderstood, neither good or bad. Something really appealing about that, so realistically human. Even though she was a cat. Ha ha.
Even though I have a lot of shit memories, there were moments where the light shined just enough to keep me positive and looking forward to being an adult so I could make my own rules and create my own path in life. I longed to be 18 so I could move out. I tried to get a job at 14 so I could make my own money and move out, but it doesn't work like that. My father allowed me to work when he realized he could take a portion of my paychecks, but I didn't care because as long as I had enough to save and go to karate I didn't care. Ah yes, karate... I wasn't allowed to do any sports that was considered for boys. That meant I had to secretly skateboard and take karate, I desperately wanted to be a Ninja Turtle (for real, but I wanted to be a lot of things). I used to work at a Little Caesars right next to a dojo and the manager there felt sorry for me and would lie to my dad when he would come check in on me. "She's at the bank making a deposit" while I was really next door kicking some ass! The way my father found out was like something in a 90's flick. I was in the back of a truck with a bunch of other kids, on our way to a tournament to earn our next belt. We were at a red light, and my dad pulled up right next to us. We locked eyes.
I guess I should explain about the last time he caned me. This was when we lived in an RV. He was convinced I ate all his potato chips, I kept denying it and he didn't believe me. So he demanded I assume the position, meaning I was to kneel on the sofa with my back facing him, so he could cane the arches of my feet. This usually made me scream in agony and beg for him to stop. Today was different. He kept hitting me and I said nothing, not a peep. Instead, I turned and looked at him in the eyes, probably sneering because I was always in trouble for my face expressions too. He was so freaked out he never caned me again.
Fast forward... I buy a bus ticket on Greyhound from Vegas to Seattle, with a friend from high school who said we could stay with friends in the woods. Gig Harbor to be exact. I pack up a few things in my backpack and we head out. We had NO money, so we kept an eye on the ground in case we found any spare change for food, people used to use real coins to gamble back then. Nothing. We were so hungry by the time we got to Seattle and still had another hour to get to Gig Harbor. By the time we got there it was hard to not raid the kitchen when our gracious hosts said "help yourself". I remember this like yesterday, I made the biggest sandwich in the world, and stuffed it down whole, I almost choked!
I found out the real reason my friend wanted to go there was because he was in love with the girl that lived there. She was very kind to welcome me into her home, and her parents were so very nice. I was always uncomfortable around parents because up to that point I had been hit so much and didn't know any other way to be around parents except to be on guard and be scared. They noticed I flinched a lot, it was embarrassing.
They said we could stay as long as we needed to get on our feet. My goal was to find a job and then a place of my own. I was a virgin, I didn't do drugs, I didn't have many friends, and I was a good student. I applied for a job at Denny's, "The Goth Denny's" to be exact. It was the cool hangout at the time (maybe it still is?). I was pretty sure I got the job, things were going to be good!My friend and I went to the sea side where I pulled my long hair (past my butt) into a pony tail chopped it all off as a sign of my freedom. I threw the bundle of hair into the ocean and said NO ONE WOULD EVER CONTROL ME AGAIN. It was like I was doing a spell to release me from fear. I died it bright red. My dad hated short hair and red hair, so it was sort of like a big fuck you to him as well.
Safe, right? Nope. My social security number pulled up a missing persons report. CPS turned up to my sanctuary in the woods, and although they seemed to mean well they insisted that they had to take me back to my dad. I tried to explain, in the most adult way possible, that they were returning me to a dangerous place. They did not listen. They took me to a safe house where I was to stay for a couple days before I was to board the plane with a CPS officer. I was miserable. I considered suicide... what the fuck point was there to being a good person when you're just going to be sent back to torture? At that precise moment I considered slashing my wrists the Cranberries came on tv with their music video for "Zombie", watching her sing and feeling her power and creativity was soothing to my soul and helped me overcome my fear.
I thought about everything I had been through and decided I would face him and not fight with CPS. To this day I have mixed feelings about CPS, I understand they mean well but often times they return you to danger. I can't honestly say I like CPS because they did not protect me, it was more like they protected my father.
Anyway, I'm returned home. CPS leaves. My father chases me out of the house with a hammer because I look like a whore, screams at me calling me a harlot because my hair is red (and that's what I named that lipstick after) and yells that I'm going to hell and that I'll be crawling back for his help one day. Yeah, right. I move back to Vegas 30 years later and he leaves the country.
AND THEN THERE WAS LIGHT, AGAIN
I AM SIN is my creative outlet, something that helps me process what I went through, the hardships I had to face... and a reminder that you can become what you want, you can do good even if you came from bad, and being abused is no excuse for being a shitty person. I hope I turned an awful childhood into a beautiful adulthood and creative business. I feel bad for my father, but he needs to come to terms with what he did, and what he did doesn't define me as an adult. I would NEVER hit a child.
Painting my face and wearing a costume was an escape from harsh realities that was my childhood. Cutting my hair cut the bond of fear my dad created, and I chose to break away from a cycle of abuse. I choose life, and I choose creativity as an outlet. It took me YEARS to learn forgiveness and not to react badly when people try to fuck with me, because in the end the way people treat you is their karma, the way you choose to react is your karma.
The sad stories don't stop there, but every person has a journey and a lot of stories remain untold. Please remember this when you experience something really bad and you think you can't handle it, you can. Also, remember that sometimes people who try to hurt you are hurting themselves, this is no excuse for abuse and it is best to remove that person from your life. But try to be kind. I deal with liars, attention seekers and ex-friends that don't want resolution and don't want closure. If they can't be your friend they want to be something in your life so they will do and say things to get you to react badly. Don't be their puppet. You have so much power within you, and when you try to do good you will prevail and you will come out stronger and with a much deeper understanding of what life is actually about.
Love, be loved. Think before you react. Surround yourself by kindness and give kindness. Everyone makes mistakes, admit your mistakes, make amends and move on. I make mistakes all the damn time because I'm human. Don't let your mistakes define you until your dying breath, it is never too late to let go and live a good life.
TO BE CONTINUED