Thursday, February 16, 2012

ABC

Two years ago, not too long after I moved to Boston, through some connection, Adam asked me if I was interested in going to an Ivy League game involving Harvard vs. Cornell. The tickets were going to be bought through a group of Taiwanese-Americans who are organizing the event to cheer on a Taiwanese-American player named Jeremy Lin, who has the potential to be drafted into the NBA. It was a fun event, and one of the girls made a large sign for JLin and as posers, we took pics with it. I have a whole facebook album of the event and some close-up pics of JLin on court, as well as me being interviewed by Taiwanese media on the JLin phenomenon. Even at that point, the Taiwanese media was on top of it, ready to claim him to be the pride and joy of our "country."

It actually occurred to me at that point, I can't remember whether it was a conversation of some sort or I read this somewhere, that a lot of the people that I went to the game with, and Jeremy Lin himself, would correct you when you call them Taiwanese. "Actually, my parents are Taiwanese. I was born in America." They never directly say that they are NOT Taiwanese, nor do they say that they are Taiwanese-American; rather, they point out simply that it is their parents who are Taiwanese. If you were to ask them what their background is, they'd say "well my parents are born in Taiwan, but I'm born in the U.S." --there is simply no label for them.

First, it's important to point out that they are not wrong. I mean, it's a fact that they are born in the U.S., therefore Americans--there's no dispute about it. The question is what it even means to be Taiwanese-American. When someone says a person is African-American, it doesn't mean that the person is from Africa, it simply indicates a race in a politically correct yet in a somewhat distorted way--if you're black and your parents are from Jamaica, are you African-American? But then you never hear people refer someone as "Jamaican-American", though you do hear things like Irish-American, and yet not "Italian-American" (politically anyway). I don't understand this hyphenate American thing enough to have an understanding of when does one get a alternate attachment because it's not just purely "continent-American", "country-American", or in the Chinese case, simply "race-American"---or is it? Does being Chinese-American imply that you're from China or does it imply that your parents are of the "Chinese" race? Is Chinese even a race? Wikipedia tells me that there is no real clear definition from a social construction of different Asian races (Indians are Asians too and Korean is not a race.) So is JLin Taiwanese-American or Chinese-American? Even ESPN couldn't figure it out. At the Vday game last night against the Raptors, the commentator said, "he is the first Taiwanese....er Chinese American...."

Taiwan is neither a race nor a UN recognized country, so Jlin, not having been born in Taiwan, never having visited Taiwan until last year, and not speaking Mandarin well, how can he identify with being "Taiwanese-American"? The easy way out is for him to say he's "Chinese-American" to identify his race as being simply not white or black because, you know, if you claim to be just plainly American, you get white people saying, well of Asian descent, and Chinese people saying, oh you're not proud of your ancestor. On the other hand, if you are anywhere beyond second generation American and white, then you have an easier time not to have to associate yourself with a culture and identity you simply don't identify with. Basically, the point is, if your skin looks anything Asian, to say you're simply "American" is ludicrous in everyone else's eyes.

Interestingly, if you look at all the Canadian-born Asians or whatever other race or country their parents are from, you have no identity problems. All my Canadian-born Chinese friends have no problems saying they're simply Chinese. If anyone I know are asked "what's your background?" It'd be quite simple--- "Chinese" "Korean" "Taiwanese" "Guyanese" "Ukrainian." So put simply, this identity issue is purely an American ideological and assimilation issue, details of which I simply don't have enough interest at the moment to get into.

The second, and probably most important thing I want to point out is the lack of understanding Taiwanese people, and even other Chinese people, seem to have about the American assimilation process. They feel like JLin is Taiwanese or Chinese and they boast about it. Sure you have people everywhere talking about JLin as a phenomenon no matter where you turn your head, but these Taiwanese and Chinese people take it a step further and say that he represents them(!) Let me tell you right here and right now, I've seen his interviews and he does not feel that he's representing anyone, especially not those living on this little island called Taiwan. Every time he gets asked questions like "how does it feel to represent such a large group of people" he skirts around the issue and says things like, well it's my parents who are Taiwanese and I'm just playing ball. The funniest thing is when the Taiwanese politicians want to recruit him to play for the Taiwanese national league--good luck with that. Will Lin's attitude change when he has more interactions with Asian/Chinese/Taiwanese culture and fans? Who knows, but to go around claiming that he's Taiwanese and the "Light of Taiwan" is almost embarrassing. Like one commentator said, you don't see Africans claiming Kobe is the "Light of Africa".

Personally, as someone who is Taiwan-born with a lot of Taiwanese influence as I grew up, my initial reaction to JLin's readiness to shake off his background was a bit of a disappointment. But then as I thought about it, I realized that if he was born and raised in the U.S., and he has never been to Taiwan, and his parents never enforced traditional Asian values on him, why should anyone expect him to be otherwise? Someone said to me that it's his parents' "fault" for the way he is...Why is it a fault to allow your children to live in an environment that's like everyone else's? This idea of having a responsibility to get to know your roots is antiquated and unfair. The more you understand about ANY culture will make you a better person. It is a humanistic responsibility to learn about other cultures, but it is not anyone's responsibility to zone in on a single culture because someone else tells you based on your parents' background and your skin colour that you should get to know something.

Most importantly, JLin's attitude is not disgust towards his background or that he's not proud. He makes very valid points about his background without looking down on anything. Had he went around saying he's Taiwanese, I guarantee you we'd get haters who say JLin is as Taiwanese as Kobe Bryant because he can barely even speak Mandarin and has never been to Taiwan. You can't win. On the other side of the same coin, people who go around saying "I'm proud to be Asian" "Asian Pride" blah blah blah, but know nothing about his or her culture is a lot more appalling to me. Do you even know what you're proud of?

Regardless of where you are born, where your parents are born,where you grew up, where they grew up, the most important thing is about your identity shouldn't be something as superficial as your skin colour and things you can't change, but about being honest with yourself and being a good human being. Be proud of the fact that you have done good things in your life, and not just tout that you're proud of something you can't even control or don't even understand.

Idealistic? Probably. But we gotta start somewhere.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

AC: "Healthy Living"


Matt:  don't u know it's airline policy to have at least 1 crying baby on every flight. they pay the mothers
lynnie : air transat must be losing a ton of money they have like 8 crying babies on every flight
Matt: aha, it's all part of their customer experience, it's a worthy expenditure for them just like how they pay for the flights to not line up with their connecting flights, like, ever
lynnie : who doesnt LOVE extremely long layovers
Matt: exactly. customer service
lynnie: just enough time to fall asleep on the bench, not enough to leave the airport
Matt: or like they're doing u a favor by making u land in terminal 1 at O'Hara and have to get to terminal 3 in 10 min good exercise for you, part of Air Canada's "healthy living" plan

Friday, February 10, 2012

Letting Go


The Buddha said we experience the peace of nirvana by letting things be as they are. Indeed, applying the Beatles' exhortation to "Let It Be" to our lives can bring a lot of serenity and equanimity. [...]

Of course, if it were that easy, we'd all be enlightened by now. --Letting go, letting be, or embodying the Buddhist term "nonattachment" greatly reduces and even alleviates suffering. In fact, it is the goal of Buddhism. Buddha taught that the cause of suffering is craving and attachment. Therefore, letting go of our tight-fisted grasping is in our own self-interest, as it helps erode our wellspring of dissatisfaction and anxiety.

...attachment is like holding on tightly to something that is always slipping through my fingers--it just gives me rope burn. But letting go--nonattachment--relieves the constant, painful irritation. A good example of this is not being able to fall asleep at night because you keep turning something over and over in your mind. It's one of those times when letting go is obviously a necessary virtue, and having some kind of relaxation tool can be extraordinarily helpful.

Scientific research has shown that people who are optimistic and have an ability to accept or let go of negative memories, experiences, and events tend to be healthier and live longer than people who are pessimistic and worry about or try to change things that are out of their control. Indeed, acceptance is actually transformative, and awareness is curative. Sometimes mistaken for passivity or complacency, acceptance has a powerful magic that is actually quite dynamic and creative. Have you ever noticed, for example, how accepting your mate rather than trying to change him or her ends up improving your relationship?

The easiest way to work on letting go and letting be is to notice your tendency to want things to be different from what they are and to practice giving up that strong preference. The Third Chinese Patriarch of Zen sang, "The Way is not difficult for those who have few preferences."


Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Buddhism/2000/12/Letting-Go-Letting-Be.aspx#ixzz1m2TuZSPJ

Noise Pollution


lynnie: TIRED of the noise pollution
K: well it's either banging or mom nagging. Which do u hate more? haha
lynnie: mom nagging haha..i forgot u had noise pollution in ur life too
K: REALLY?!?!?!?!?!?!?1
lynnie: hahaha i still wouldnt move back home despite the banging, at least u can wear ear plugs; you cant wear ear plugs when ur mom nags
K: oh u said u hate mom nagging more. see? there, putting things in prespective for u = )

Racquet Ball Court

Recently I've been asked if I was working next to a squash court or a racquet ball court. Why? because during the meeting, all you hear is "bang bang bang bang" in the background."


You see those holes in the middle of the buildings? They're building a bridge to connect the two buildings. It's supposed to look pretty cool. I hope it does, because it's driving me bat$^!7 crazy right now.

A few weeks ago, there were some banging outside that was louder than usual, and I saw this:
Looks like they're starting to build the bridge from the bottom and hoist it up. Okay.....but then the banging got louder and louder and louder, and then it started at approximate 6:45am and lasts until about 4pm. On Saturdays, around 9am it begins. And then as the days go by, it actually gets even LOUDER. One day I finally looked out my window again to see what's going on, and I realized that not only are they bonging steel, they are literally banging outside my window. LITERALLY.


Here's a excerpt:
video

This was a short version, actually. Sometimes they go on for 5 minutes of banging. And then intermittently for ten minutes. A break for about 15 minutes, and then begins again. There's no say.

So, I had to go and get these babies:

They make my inner ear itch, but now I don't wake up before 7am every morning any more.
This morning, I had a dream about something I can't remember, but towards the end of the dream, someone was banging my head against the wall, going "PONG PONG PONG PONG" and when I woke up from it, I realized it was because one of the plugs fell out of my ear.

I wonder how much longer this will go on.
____________________________________

On a unrelated note, I liked what I did with my hair and makeup last weekend. So some vanity shots. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Disclaimer

I often find myself questioning whether what I am about to write/just wrote, belongs in a public forum, assuming first that there are people who are reading this, but second, and more importantly, there might be important people who are Googling me. The rule of thumb is, if you question it, it probably doesn't belong here.

There was a period when things were simple. When I wrote in LiveJournal on a daily basis, wrote whatever I wanted and whenever I wanted. Yes, I was also 16 when I started, literally (though I've kept a diary since I was 6 that stopped after LJ). Some time down the road, when LiveJournal no longer served its purpose, I began to try out all types of platforms and trying to figure out the right medium for my blogging. Although Blogspot has been the only platform that I actually continued to update regularly over the years, I have never been 100% satisfied with it. For one, it's totally and completely public--searchable, even. I could turn it off, the search function. I could, in fact, make it even private so only people I "invite" can read this, but then what's the point of putting it online?

I realized today that I've searched for the "perfect" platform in the last few years in vain because I've had this rationale that as long as I can perfectly define my "goal" for blogging, then I'll be able to find the perfect platform. My first mistake was to assume that there is a perfect goal and therefore a perfect platform. My goal was to find a space where I can write about my thoughts and feelings that can be read by a public I choose (e.g., not potential employers) as well as a space where I can write about my less personal and (presumably) more intellectual observations that can be read by anyone. Of course, there is no platform where you can keep specific people out without even knowing potentially who they are and what their credential is. So then I tried workarounds. Keep a public blog that has what I deem to be "good" writing and then another blog that I can write garbage, edited thoughts, and then maybe another private space where writing is a therapy. But then the lines blur and no one has the time to maintain multiple blogs. In the end, I always come back here, often struggling with the type of content that I put on here.

My second mistake, was that, as obvious as it might sound, I naively believed that there could be a public/semi-public space for personal thoughts and feelings at my age. The word "personal" alone already indicates something that does not belong in the "public." At the end of the day, if you are going to put unedited thoughts and (*GASP*) feelings online, you're going to be judged, like it or not. But if you are going to edit the thoughts and extract the feeling, then the blog becomes impersonal and no longer a method for self-expression.

I've noticed lately as I click on "random" blogs that there seemed to be two groups of bloggers:
1. impersonal blogs written by anyone of any age about any topic (sometimes about their lives but without personal thoughts or feelings) and
2. personal blogs written by either teenagers (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/fashion/blogging-as-therapy-for-teenagers.html) or stay-at-home  moms (most of whom are Christian, which deserves an entire research paper--why are they mostly Christian?)
Note that the second group have less to lose when writing about their personal lives.
In fact, the only people I personally know who place any sort of self-expression online, blog in Chinese--for that extra security barrier--or they start a blog that not many know about, and when the readership grows, they start to delete and censor and find a new space, only to eventually come back to the old one for its readership but write more cryptically or impersonally. Sounds familiar.

The reason why blogs are popular, beyond money-making, is the sheer fact that many people do want to find ways to express the self to other human beings--be it one person or some unknown audience. It feels good. And blogs are the perfect way to do it without impinging on your best friend's free time. On the other hand you run into the issue of being judged by potential people that may affect your future. So the careful balance of finding that audience that you are looking for while keeping out the audience you don't want, is near impossible. So most people just stop trying.

I am neither 16 nor a stay-at-home Mom, so my sometimes ignorant and unaware observations and sometimes less ignorant and hopefully more insightful unedited thoughts and feelings don't belong online. I should be smarter about what I put here (Celine's blog has a perfect balance of picture blogging her life without getting personal). I do realize that putting a "self" online, albeit somewhat censored, exposes all types of weakness. And yet, here we are.

The only theory I have right now on why I continue to do this is that I might not be ready to turn my back on my 16 year-old self yet. Am I missing something that hasn't allowed me to move on? Is my need for "self-expression" that great? I still haven't quite figured it out. So I think this entry serves as a disclaimer, in that despite knowing the dangers of putting a "self" online that gets judged, and despite often cringing when going through my archives, I continue to do it. Maybe I'll regret this one day, maybe I won't. I do, however, like the idea that it's for the sake of finding something young to take with me as I age.

Plus, as long as my exposés are tl;dr, then I'm safe.



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Waiting Game

One of the things that made me miserable in Boston was really no one's fault but mine. I spent a lot of time waiting.

I waited for Adam to get home from work, waited for him to stop working while at home or on the weekend, waited for him to stop thinking about work--waited until he was able to give me his full attention so we can spend time together. And then when he was finally finished with work, it was late and we needed to get ready to sleep (so we can work the next day.) It was a waiting game that often didnt work out.

And while I waited, I did almost nothing--unless you call Facebook games, online  shopping, contributing to pointless yelp forums "something".

I've often told people that I felt stunted in Boston--intellectually, socially, professionally.   I did nothing after work, not even read. I'd cook, and clean, and then wait. A lot of people probably wouldnt wait. They'd realign their focus elsewhere and sometimes it works out because you're not waiting, and then sometimes the two of you  grow a part, eventually.  For me, i just obtusely, unthinkingly waited, without any conscious awareness of how bored and lonely I became. And then I'd mourn for another lost day, for the loss of another day of youth and potential. (Perhaps it's my pessimism talking, but I can't help but feel that the older you get, the less possibilities in life..)

I know that I had no one but myself to blame for this; my parents have always warned me that I am too dependent.  Yes, it's true. And then the back lash. Now I'm here, alone, doing my own thing, going to places, feeling more fulfilled, with a sacrifice of something I had lost along the way.

But it doesn't need to be like this. It doesn't have to be one way or the other.

I shouldn't need to be mad at myself for waiting. I just have to stop waiting, that's all.  Find the balance between over-dependence and over-independence.

Or, something else altogether? I'll figure it out. Life kinda makes you.

For now, I'm ok.