my grandpa on my mom’s side passed away a couple days ago. I was by no means close to him, but there was a certain permanence in his existence. We visited every christmas, grumbling along the 8 hour I-5 drive. Arguing during the bad years. Bored on the good years. He was part of that environment. The warm, reflective winter breaks in Alhambra, California. He caused a lot of emotional grief for my aunts and uncles, especially towards the end of his life.
What really saddens me is the smallness of my mom’s voice when she says “It’s okay. I just wish he waited for me to come,” and the hope I detect, shyly hidden, when she says that it’s okay if I don’t come to the funeral.
I don’t know what happened, but people became meaner this year. Either I have become more sensitive to it or I have just magically grown a bunch of social skills to detect the underlying nastiness of my classmates.
So many incidents this semester that I’ve seen where people are
a) taking themselves too seriously and put down others
b) assuming other people don’t know anything, and therefore giving them less respect
c) totally forgetting professionalism to CLASSMATES, and being total bitches during club meetings.
Where did the manners go? My theory is that the white folks (all guilty parties are white know-it-alls who actually don’t know it all) got so used to taking over shit from last year that they assumed their voices to be correct and holy and take up so much space that the rest of us are shoved into roles where we don’t learn anything in group exercises. I find myself studying harder, speaking up more, just to battle the passive stereotype of Asian girls. Also making sure that I don’t preface everything with “I think..” or “I’m not sure, but…” because most of the time I DO KNOW THE ANSWER.
I’m fighting for my right to learn, to lead, and to be recognized for what I do know and contribute. During anatomy one dude who probably masturbates to the sound of his own voice, keeps answering shit wrong yet insists on interrupting others and dominating conversations. When you don’t know shit, keep your mouth shut and LEARN from others. Eventually I got tired of him wasting all our time with his wrong explanations and started interrupted him with correct ones. It’s selfish to take up so much space and not even contribute to other people learning. This one anatomy professor has worked with me a lot throughout last year’s labs and knows me as a shy, soft spoken student. At the end of this lab session, after nearly 30 minutes of rapid fire PIMPing he exclaimed, "Now you’ve entered the game!"
Damn right I am. White people, you better watch yourselves - I’m playing now.
The thing about this is that sculptures like these in art history were for the male gaze. Photoshop a phone to it and suddenly she’s seen as vain and conceited. That’s why I’m 100% for selfie culture because apparently men can gawk at women but when we realize how beautiful we are we’re suddenly full of ourselves…
k time for more selfies
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
—Leonard Cohen (via 408lurve)
I took both these pictures in Asia. The first one I took was 3 years ago and I was in love. I was in love with Chinese culture and I wanted to consume it whole. I took Chinese classes when I came back to the states and thought I could fix my identity with textbooks. I was ashamed that I had lost so much of what I thought was mine: my blood and my right. The second picture I took last month, waking up to another day of shadowing doctors in a Taiwan hospital. This time around I am still in love. But I am in love with a person who is ABC like me, who navigates the treacherous waters of that hyphen in between Taiwanese/Chinese/Asian-American. I still take similar pictures 3 years apart, entranced by the hues when light filters through the curtains. Both times I was laying in a bed that I had called mine for a month, both times I am still a stranger in a foreign land, both times I was looking out a window romanticized by light filtering through curtains. I’m still a tourist of a culture that is supposed to run in my blood.
Nowadays I accept that I am a lot of America and a little of Taiwan. I am not completely one or another. I am strange in both lands, yet somehow I find that it is all right. The collectivism of Chinese people allow them to make statements about me as if they were talking to their own children. They have a family member just like you, born in English speaking lands. They think that they know you. They think that they know how to take care of you. I went to a big temple in Kaohsiung last month and a monk said, “Even if you give someone everything, your love, your care, your attention, your money, ask yourself - is it what they need? did they want it in the first place?” I think that my Grandpa has grasped this concept. He offers his house and tells me that I should treat it as my own house. He doesn’t nag me. He doesn’t express pride or disappointment in my life; he is just happy that I am there with him. Sometimes I feel that he is a stranger, but I ask myself what is there really to know about me? I am a student here to study. I read a lot, I’m sort of quiet, and other than that we can barely communicate as it is. We play charades punctuated with our heavily accented Chinese. His accent leans towards the old world, the motherland. Mine leans towards the new land, the place of dreams. It is comfortable to just sit together and eat in silence.
Meanwhile, complete strangers assume shit about me. Nurses say that I “should” be able to speak and read Chinese fluently because I have a grandpa here. I cried pitifully later feeling the cut of that remark: that after my years of studying I still fall woefully short of fluent. I still can’t express myself, I still can’t read patient charts, I still can’t can’t can’t, and all my studies result in stuttering and incomplete Chinese sentences. Doctors speak at lightning speed and tease me in an overly familiar way when I have a deer in the headlights look. They feel like they can treat me like their child. Just because I have black hair and brown eyes like your own does not mean I am one of yours. Group mentality and familiarity has its benefits, but I am not someone that you know. Americans put all Asians in a box. The Chinese put all ABCs in a box. It sucks to be put in either one, always desperately trying to not be the foreigner.
At the end of the day, I am always most comfortable when I am by myself, in my thoughts. I will forever feel like an anthropologist in both worlds.