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Monthly Archives: February 2013

It’s 2:40 am and I’m tired. Not that that should be surprising anyways. These days I feel like lethargy is just a part of my personality. Perhaps the only part of my personality I can be sure of for now, anyways.

I’m tired because I’m pretending. It’s all I loved to do as a kid with my friends, pretending we were whatever animals, whatever job, to the point that our parents would ask us to stop pretending so much. But I never did stop.

I’m not actually into cars or hiking. I’m just trying to make this a good date for once. I don’t value intoxicated weekends as highly as you guys do. I’m just here for the pictures. I love electronic music a lot more than you think I do. I just don’t want it to seem so, in front of your lovely but anti-mainstream self. I don’t know how to answer when you ask, “How are you?”. Because I don’t want to know and you don’t either. I’d rather not tell you when something you’ve done bothers me. I’d rather not deal; I’ll let you what you’d want to hear. I don’t agree with half the bullshit you’re speaking. I’ll just play along to keep this conversation going, to be acceptable. It breaks my heart to know you hate your body and maybe even yourself. But I struggle in the same ways some days. I don’t believe in the same things you do anymore (could you ever forgive my liberal, atheistic, hell-bound self for this one?). I’m just keeping my mouth shut because I’m the only one in the family who could cause a shit storm like this. I think I might actually love you, you who I can’t be with. But I’ll still go out with guys who I force myself to like more than I really do, still leave you out of all conversations regarding relationship melodrama.

Would it be less tiring to be real with myself, at the least? Am I strong enough to face my fears and flaws and unwanted feelings for a few minutes before I fall asleep at night? Probably not. But could it be that such a self-acceptance is plausibly attainable? Are we all just pretending in front of the other out of the same apprehension?

I won’t know how to stop pretending on the outside until I figure it out from within. I think I’ll start tonight, when the lights go out. The darkness and all its stillness will wring out those parts of me I never let drip, for the fear of waves I might sink under. But I need to be okay. I need to learn to be okay with my vulnerable self, every single part.

It’s okay that I don’t like rear wings or the itchy feeling in my nose when I’m hiking up my hometown trails. It’s okay that I’m not as into, or really, at all into being drunk as some. I think my liver will be thanking me for that one. It’s okay that I like the music that I like, and it shouldn’t matter that some people not might. In fact, I’d like to start trusting my music-major-validated taste even more. I don’t know if I’ll ever enjoy the “How are you?”s, but it’s okay to not be in a default happy state all the time. It’s okay when people annoy or disagree with me, because I certainly do the same. I don’t know if the world could ever work with everyone  living in a single perspective. And it’s okay to voice how I truly feel, disagreements and all, because I don’t need to fit into the expectation of never having an discomfort-arousing opinion. It’s okay to look the way I am, this color, this curve or not. What am I bringing myself down for? More of society’s expectations? It’s okay that I’m secretly the black sheep of my family, and as much of a burden as it is, I will accept myself even if they won’t accept me. And it’s hard to believe, but I will be okay with or without that guy.

Reaching the surface, just before sleep now. To keep breathing and stop pretending shall resume when I wake.

If you haven’t already noticed, I am Asian. Particularly, I am Chinese, in case you didn’t know the difference. (I was often asked in high school what the difference between Asian and Chinese was. What?)

But I don’t feel Chinese. Even though both my parents are immigrants and are still pretty traditionally Chinese, I honestly feel nothing more than American (or Asian-American, if you insist) on the inside. I failed high school Chemistry. I barely know how to use chopsticks (unless you count stabbing the food). I can’t handle spicy and seafood. I prefer Americanized Chinese cuisine over Authentic Chinese. I have always responded in English to my parents’ Chinese. Have never liked the Chinese necessity to “be the best”, to show no emotion and affections.

The only stereotypes that I accept are that I play piano and am loving school more and more. And I’m short. But even then, I do not agree with the Chinese drive for technical perfection and show in piano and I do not agree with the Chinese sense of worth through grades and scores. I believe in expression and musicality over technical perfection. I believe in learning over studying and memorizing.

But more than all of that, I often find myself secretly embarrassed to be Chinese and to be identified with the culture. I am cautious when I put up pictures on Facebook, making sure it doesn’t seem like all my friends are Asian. When I go out with Asian friends, I am afraid people look at me and only see another typical Asian girl. I feel annoyed every time I see some kind of Facebook post about “Asian Pride”. When I’m mistaken for being half-Asian (or I even got Latina a few times!), I feel perhaps a bit too happy that I don’t look like every other Chinese girl. This school year I started dying my hair lighter not only for aesthetic reasons, but to support my pretend-half-Asian race.  When I tell people I go to Chapman University, I feel perhaps a bit too much of satisfaction in the responses that sound like “Isn’t that a rich white people school?”.

I have always envied my Caucasian girlfriends and the way they shared clothes with their fashionable moms, the way their parents would hug and kiss them with no shame, their matching furniture, their huge Thanksgivings and Christmases, the liberty and liberalness. And amidst all of my internal complaining, my beloved parents have always been doing just as much to love me. They didn’t try so hard in school to just “be the best”. They had me in mind. They wanted me to live the good life. And because of them, I do. I really do.

Even then, I don’t know what it is that is holding me back from being proud of part of who I am. Does race even matter that much when it comes to the “who I am”? Can I be proud of something I didn’t choose? What would it feel like to be the majority? These are questions that I might not ever find a definite answer to, but I must start with accepting a look and culture I can’t change.

Looking out the window of the subway, the headlights of the train attempt to clear the way for me. Graffiti in all kinds of colors, all kinds of curves, having their mysterious mark on this fifty-year-old underground world. I wonder to myself, “How did anyone ever make it down here with their art? The danger…the darkness.”

My vision blurs for a few, unfocused moments that really ought to have lasted longer. Hours longer.

“How did get myself down here?”

Snapping back, eyes on the window again. Eyes on me. Rarely do I ever see that sort of glare, the kind that these little eyes could burn, torment, kill with. I resort to looking down, like the rest of the strangers in this place. Maybe if I glare hard enough, I’ll be able to find hints of my stone heart crushed on the tracks.

Something’s gone bad when a five-minute public transit experience is oozing that much drama and cheese. You’re just like this word, “bad”, that I keep saying in my head, to the point where it sounds so unfamiliar. Neither of you feel real right now.

But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the missing realness. I spent the last year and a half believing I had a happy ending waiting for me in the Philadelphia streets. So did another she.

Nothing but your West Coast honey, counting the letters in every Walgreens ad across Kennedy Boulevard. Nothing but your late-night crutch, watching the way everyone who isn’t you is walking. Nothing but your personal, silently crazy bitch, waiting and waiting and you not showing, and me finally knowing. Through a goddamn text message.

So I let my eyes back to the window, and this time I only see darkness. I don’t know what else to look at–I’ll find your cheating face in everyone and everything. Even my subconscious will fall victimized tonight, as I watch you stare into my eyes the same way I’m staring into anything stare-able today. Your right hand will be on my shoulder as you ask, “Tell me, how do people make decisions?” I’ll bury my face in your chest in this unwanted dream, waking up in a sleepy fury.

It’s a slow hour past midnight now, and I’ll tell you how people make decisions if I get to be the people. And all the people say, “Stupidly.”

As they say. But this is one cliché I can’t quite give into any longer.

It has become quite the oxymoron–a phrase that should bring comfort turned uncomfortable, for me, at the least. (But no matter! Most everything is subjective, I think.)

Comfort. I suppose it’s not just that. It becomes some kind of complacent comfort when the questions never get a chance. We get stuck in that complacent comfort. (By “we” I’m really meaning myself.) We’ll hate situations and never give action a chance.  And sometimes things get so tragically painful that the only answer to the “Why?”s is, well, this hurting is no hurting in vain. Hurt for a purpose. Beauty from pain. Yadayada.

But shit happens, for no good or bad or any reason at all. I don’t believe life puts on these specific schemes for us to learn this one lesson, gain any certain wisdom.

I don’t believe there is a destiny for me. No greater plan. I’ll make my own meanings when I must, make my own me as I must. The world doesn’t owe me, and this is nothing new. I am nothing new.

This all sounds a bit depressing, but I promise you it’s not. This is a grand opening of possibilities–of who, what, where, when, and how I could be. I’m not special, but I am unlimited. Everything happens for no reasons but the ones I may or may not create.

There will be no waiting on life or signs in this fleeting time of mine.