Winter Baby

I was born in January. I was told that when my mother was having contractions in the dead of winter, it was during a heavy snowfall and my father had to shovel the driveway before he could drive her to the hospital. I thrive in the winter.

Right.

I am the impostor “winter baby” who picked Southern California to settle down in. Because there is no such thing as “winter” here. The seasons here are “dry” and “drier,” with the most drastic temperature changes occurring between dawn and dusk in the exact same day – what with no humidity in this desert to keep warmth around.

Save for the fact that maybe I just got comfortable with this city after my stint in higher education, I love the fact that I can drive to the snow and then leave it. But I do. At least two weekends per winter month. When I leave Mammoth, I leave the worst forms of snow behind so that they do not exist in my day-to-day life – the slush, the ice and all the road salt they require. Mild temperatures, which means that people wear flip-flops all year round (or Uggs at all) – two of my top fashion pet peeves – are of consequence. Pretending to commiserate with other Angelenos who complain about temps “dipping” into the 60s are another. And that’s okay.

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Single in Los Angeles

You may be beautiful. You and I might have great conversation. And I might tell my girlfriends about you (and you, and you) to have them groan when I get to the part that you have a girlfriend.

But don’t be mistaken. It’s not that I’m sad you are already committed. If you weren’t, I would feel obligated to feel more for you than I am capable. Right now. It’s easier. I need easy right now.

I couldn’t lie though and say I wasn’t ever curious if you were single. How old you are. What your passion in life is. What your craft is.

Though I’ve never met her, I respect your girlfriend. The Code is more important than ever. The keeping or breaking of it is our contribution to or detraction from society. Never in the middle. Besides, if we’re a part of something greater than ourselves, this is The Way. If I am the end to everything in my words, my actions, we are all in trouble. I believe that.

This time is different. I’m not lost in transition and just looking to grab onto the nearest thing to attach myself to achieve a sort of false sense of stability or distraction. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone. I know it didn’t stop me before, but denial is so early-twenties. I’ve decided it’s about time to grow up. Besides, I’ve become an expert at distracting myself with myself. It allows me to live out the respect I have for others by not using and abusing them for my own, trivial fancies.

I’m telling you - I am here and I will relish this moment; I have arrived. I don’t need you (or you, or you) - but you’re welcome to contribute if I think you’re worthy. After all, only the most spectacular or stupid (self) can spoil this. I will enjoy this – I am enjoying this – and now I know I will never settle again. I won’t need to, because I will hate you for holding me back, for requiring me to expect less of you. Like I said – it wouldn’t be fair.

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Asian American Frustration

I rounded the corner from the parking lot along the sidewalked path to Amoeba Records on Cahuenga. There they were, the post-college Asians crowded outside as they were lined up to get into the club. Now, I wasn’t wearing the club gear I usually do the two times per year I even visit a nightclub, so I suspect I looked out of place. Out of place enough to deserve some of what I call, Hoochie Glares. It’s the obligatory stare a female of Asian descent graces another female of Asian descent with, a.k.a. “mad-dogging” – especially in predominantly Asian American settings. It’s meant to counteract the outsider assumption that sweet little Asian girls are just that – sweet. Problem is, nobody inside this sort of insular club scene really thinks that.

Ah, the memories.

It reminds me of a time (*ahem* University of Caucasians Living [amongst] Asians) of never really having to deal with the interracial societal issues at large – or even personal interaction – so long as I didn’t “have” to. It reminds me of the type of camaraderie of being amongst other people who happen to share a continental ethnic origin and desire to get drunk at a club the celebs used to go to, 2 years ago, and will in 3 months undergo another renovation, name and ownership change. (And hey – before you think I’ve handed down a verdict, I’ll tell you first off that I’m not one to judge – I used to put those things together!)

While I won’t contest that it’s superficial racial unity at its best, it baffles if even saddens me that we can come together for this sort of “movement” as an attraction for nightclub promotion dollars, yet we are the ones – the minorities – who aren’t even considered a solid political voting block. I know that on the political side, this speaks to the diversity of the Asian American experience. More varied things brought our parents and ancestors to America so I know that’s a benefit as far as avoiding being pigeon-holed. The problem? Our voices have a much harder time of being acknowledged at all. The “strength in numbers” rule doesn’t even apply.

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Creep Factor

The issue with working amongst a 90% male work force (and one of your women representatives is not necessarily at the top of the totem pole) is that you essentially cultivate your career inside a bathhouse of testosterone. The guys are in their ties and slacks, sure, but you’d think with the talk that goes on inside here you were actually overhearing men’s locker room conversation. It’s gross.

I also enjoy a view that is of the Presidential Box variety, as my cubicle is in an open-air mezzanine area shared with only a couple other coworkers. My coworker, Chris, and I have turned it into a sort of peanut gallery. We’re removed from the actual boiler room (read: we have our privacy) but are free to spectate and heckle to our heart’s desire. And no one below knows what’s coming. 

To complete the picture of my workday, I have a sales job. Actually, I think almost every single career – including in academia – is a sales job at the core. You have a product, which you have to convince a buyer or otherwise consumer of that product that it’s your product that they want, in exchange for compensation. But this career is a sales job at the core and on every appendage shooting out from it. It raises the temperature past those of other careers – especially in this market – but I have reason to feel extremely blessed. With all the market drama that’s been going on – I can honestly tell you that with our niche, there is NO other place on Wall Street I would rather be standing. (No “Main Street” mention here – thanksforlooking.) It would be modest to say that the company is having a pretty awesome year.

But back to the boiler locker room dynamics.

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On Brothers And Men

Growing up in a family with no sisters and three brothers ultimately had a big impact on my life. They are all significantly (9+ years) older and therefore had all left the nest by the time I was in junior high. Actual memories I have of them were from my limited, prepubescent personal interactions with them. Hiding in trashbags, a badminton (or flimsy volleyball) net in the backyard, complaining about mowing the lawn, houses made of couch cushions.

After they left, my parents – and I – would fill in the following blanks as to who they were; that is, with my being the audience. That is the thing about filling in the blanks. When you don’t really know anything about a person, others can make them out to be whomever you want them to be. You can also project on them any sort of role you feel they need to fill and they won’t be there to dispute that portraiture. So though I never knew them as well as even one of their high school acquaintances, there was an extremely high bar that their absence created – even bars that weren’t true to life. But they were created for me to overcome. When I did – I got the violin scholarship, played last in the piano recitals – it would prove that I was worthy of being loved. I even fulfilled their role as lawn-mower, as I probably mowed the quarter-acre lawn more often than my Dad did after the brothers left the nest.

The absence of my brothers created a need in me that went created yet unfulfilled. I have always had the love and approval of my Dad, so I wouldn’t say I had your stereotypical “Daddy Issues” you always hear about in women’s magazines regarding sexuality and equating the aforementioned with approval. Also, my mother is not the girliest of the girly so female sexuality for the most part went repressed – or, shall I say unexplored for the moment. Instead, I had “Brother Issues.” I have had, for most of my life, a need to be accepted by men as peers – whether I admitted it or not. It was something I had never had, but wanted. It was something I could see beyond my reach. Continue reading

To Fall The Right Way

I have a few pairs of jeans that I’ve had to fix in the right knee. I guess it’s kind of like guys and their workshirts. The elbows wear down because they slide their arms around on the desk. With me and jeans, though, the holes I’ve managed to put in those pants is caused by merely falling. On concrete.

I’m all right in the athletics department. I’m not in my top form at the present, but then again I doubt I’ll ever run another Marathon. I’m keeping it mostly to yoga and snowboarding for now, with some cardio in between when I’m not feeling lazy. But I’m here to tell you that being athletic doesn’t mean you’re not a klutz.

Could be the platform shoes. Or the pushy crowds. Or the beer (the pant leg repair on the left was from Oktoberfest in Munich). Or all. Or just the fact that I’m simply a klutz. No matter what, I’m always falling the same way, putting the hole in my right pant leg at the knee. It’s as if I’ve choreographed my fall, orchestrated even my missteps – to put my right knee forward every single time. So I do it the same way over and over again. Falling happens to me often enough to notice the pattern.

Old habits die hard.

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On Writing And Authenticity

Slash’s autobiography has been on my coffee table for awhile. It’s a steal-borrow from Roycifer, who was done reading it. I kept the book there because indeed, I was reading it. And while I meant to finish it, the truth of the matter is that I’m simply not good at finishing much of anything. Now the book is an excuse for an edgy coffee table book.

Apparently, his story was meant to come back to me in some way. I had recorded the first volume of the HBO Documentary series The Black List, and he was the very first featured. I thought the documentary did a remarkably well job at bringing out the poignancy in each person’s unique black experience. Everyone talked about something different – whether it was about growing up or just one of many lessons learned at work – but the common thread they all had was that they talked about a moment or whole experience that really meant a lot to them. Perhaps instances that changed them in order to give them deep meaning or insight.

I can’t wait for the second volume; I hope there are at least four.

What Toni Morrison had to say (as many things she has to say) really spoke to me:

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The Chinese American Olympic Identity

Zhang Ziyi said back in July, “I don’t know why people are so negative.”

It was before the games even started, around the time of the Tibetan protests. Before the cuter 9-year-old miming the ugly 7-year-old, the 14-year-old girl gymnast(s), the fake digital fireworks, the BSOD (I don’t think the latter 2 were a big deal) – and before the spectacular opening cermonies that showed every other nation on the planet that they could never pull off anything like that without Communism.

Point taken.

Anyway, I sensed the similar sentiment in fellow Chinese Americans in the area. And I have read a few blogs lately that have complained about anti-Chinese news coverage – which uncovered the aforementioned, and a few more.

“It’s an old brand of nationalism that has been revived now that China is a major player in the world,” said Richard Baum, a professor of political science at the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies. “Everyone loves a winner. There’s a huge diaspora that had no reason to feel proud for the last 100 years. Most of them, I suspect, identify with Beijing’s coming-out party.”

Chinese immigrants worldwide have supported China despite the fact that many fled their homeland during its most repressive periods, from the Cultural Revolution to the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, to seek better lives. (There are about 400,000 people in Los Angeles County who are either Chinese or part Chinese, according to the U.S. Census).

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I’m Sorry I Was Offended, Gasol

So tell me, Spain. How exactly do you get your eyes to look like my eyes, again? (Because it’s been a long time since I was an Asian girl in grade school in the American Midwest.)

Ahh…I get it. My eyes kind of go off to the sides like that. I get it now. Haha. That’s funny. In fact, I’m so honored you want to look like me. For those 5 seconds. While your lips are sneering. And look – you’ve even put a dragon on the basketball court! We like dragons! You know, if we had a contest where we asked hermits to guess where the Summer Olympics were going to be held next based on team photos, you would win first prize. By the way, thank you for honoring the greatest physical feature of my entire race and just putting that out in the spotlight. After all, it’s what we’re known for. We are kind of funny-looking in that way, aren’t we? :)

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Is This News?

I don’t know if there’s a finite number of ways this is just plain wrong:

Two prayer services were held at St. Louis gas stations to thank God for lower fuel prices and to ask that they continue to drop.

Participants of the Pray at the Pump movement said they planned to buy gas, pray and then sing “We Shall Overcome” with a new verse that goes, “We’ll have lower gas prices.”

- ABC News

This is not to say that anything at all is ever above (or beneath) asking God for help.

This is not to say that “overcoming” gas prices can or cannot be done without the help of God. (The Invisible Hand, you say?)

And this is not to mock the very act of praying, period. I would actually maintain that seeing the most basic errors of praying for lower gas prices combined with the failure to do what one can to conserve energy would preserve the purity of these prayers.

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