Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I live in Minnesota. Land of so many damn immigrants. I too can be considered a Mutt. But what does it mean to be Lao or Thai or Vietnamese if I could just be grouped into "Asian"? Well let me tell you blissfully ignorant folks...it is not the same. Please don't feel guilty if you are on the other side of the aisle. It's not your fault, really. But it is your fault if you decide to not learn a damn thing. It's the society of "I see no color" that we live in. This points to such implications like people opening grocery stores called "oriental", ordering "Asian" take-out means Chinese food and chopsticks, and infamous pickup lines. I agree, it's pretty funny. I like to laugh at my own stereotypes too. But this only equals more ignorance than the universe can possibly hold.
Yes, most of the time it's just plain easier to inhibit the popular stereotypes, than to explain it to every single person who comes up to you and ask "so are you Chinese or Japanese?" (as King of the Hill billies blurted). But this ultimately has become problematic to the rest of the American folks that think we're suppose to be experts in everything Asian. Now I know that even the brightest Minority Model Asians does not know...especially since they're too busy studying math and science. OK, I kid, I kid!
We have to remember we live in a VERY big world. Maybe sometimes, it feels TOO small at the same time. Does it mean it's OK to just say anyone with yellow pale skin, black hair, and maybe some squinty eyes are just "Asian"? Coming from someone that fits that description...no, it is no longer OK. Well at least I hope I'm expressing anxiety on behalf of all Asians. In addition, Asians should also share the blame for letting the guessing game go on and on. Now look what you did....everyone thinks we look the same! When really they're the ones that are fixated with the American-made stereotypical figure of Ching Chong Chinaman and Miss Saigon!
So how come the Chinese and Japanese have it easier than, let's say, Mongols or Tibetans? Aside from the fact that maybe people think Kung Fu and Anime are the best pop inventions ever; from a historical background, it's because they were the first Asians to make the 'first impression' to Americans back then (I mean the 1800s and California railroad system days). So that was when the mystical figure of the "ching chong chinaman" geared with a bamboo hat and chopsticks really took the stage of Asian stereotypes. Since then, industries bloomed with Chinese this and Japanese that. Now, obviously that has changed with a gazillion folks from all ends of the Eastern "oriental" world coming to American shores.
Enough of the history talk. All "we" (as in pretty much ALL Asians) would like to ask is for a tiny door of sensitivity to an open-mind. It really would make "our" days so much easier to bear with. I don't want to walk around with an "all Asians are the same" suit anymore. At the same time, you fellow Asians shouldn't just let peope get away with it. It comes back to bite you in the ass when your friends come to you with everything Asian and you feel dumb. Well you should, you dumbass you let it happen. Educate a little few friends and it shall pass on and on and on. Trust me. I've seen it work, especially when I hear some mutual friends tell the EXACT story I told.
Although I can hardly admit that Minnesota is a full blown metropolitan city with enough wise cats to figure out who from who, we seem to be somewhat on track towards progress. For example, I have "formally" educated my fellow co-workers and non-Southeast Asian friends what my ethnicity is and yapping this and yapping that about my family's background. I think they're practicing to get better at figuring it out before asking others as well. It's risky business folks, but so are my stereoptyes. I'm not an angry little Asian girl. Just a simpleton that is speaking out of silence. I forsee happy news. Fortune cookies to all!!!!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Do you have a perspective?
I told myself a while back, after a few failed blogs..."one day, you'll really keep a blog this time around". Maybe that day has come. I don't really know. But we shall see, will we?
What am I doing here? Perhaps spending away my precious time. I don't need to point to the news. The economy, the foreclosures, the lay-offs, war, violence, etc. The gloom and sadness of it all isn't going to stop any time soon. But how do we rise above it all with a smile? I want to figure that part out myself. I think it's easier to find myself submerged in an abundance of depressive tendencies rather than the loves that I didn't know was hidden behind my secret curtain of "I'm OK". Now is the time.
Everyone finds inspiration at least once...some point in their lifetime. I find them in the smallest ways and from strangers I've met. I'm on a quest to seek, learn, listen, hear everything and everyone of culture...influences, people, places, and spaces. From the quiet cold shores of Duluth to every corner of the meat district in Bolivia to the karaoke bars in Tokyo. I want to learn it ALL. I want to drink it, eat it, live it, feel it, sleep on it. Desensitize myself from the meta-information of distractions and junky noise we call sensationalism.
So what about me, you ask? Let's just start in a nutshell...I was laid off from the best job ever last year in November. Now I'm working on odd barely paying jobs part-time, setting up a few business ventures, back in grad school pursuing a Master's degree to be more marketable, and just taking care of my fab fam. Yes, I had time. Time to sit down. Time to think about it. Time to ask myself a few questions.
After job searching like a mad woman, I realized some things. Had I not taken the time to stop and see the simplest things I took for granted, I would have not sensed what really made me happy. I have a new home, two adopted pups that I adore, a boyfriend that loves me unconditionally, and family and friends that make life just a little more easier to bare on laughable terms. After realizing this, I landed on an article about organizing my mental clutter. Then I decided that I needed to find what happiness and being content meant to me. What does personal well-being mean to me? So I am in search of finding my equilibrium of somewhat of a self. Conscious and unconscious. I want to inhabit a better ME. It might be an outcry from isolation, I don't know. I shouldn't have to know. Even college years and waitressing days were transitional periods of self-discovery. Those that say they have a purpose or a plan are setting themselves up for broken promises and high hopes. Hey, it's great news if you do have it all set up and you're just riding the waves of 'a wonderful life' smoothly. But do you ask yourself if you're truly happy? Or is it really the end of the struggle to be meaningfully content?
I don't know what I'll find or what will happen during my quest. I don't even think I have a goal. Maybe because I don't want to disappoint myself or be underwhelmed. All I know is...life is here and it is now or neverending. People, situations, conversations, and such...all have to mean something, right? I don't want to live in a black box constrained by my four brick walls. I don't want to dwell holes into the ground under my cubicle of mundane hell. Although I may not have the funds to venture the world on an endless journey...I really do hope I can anyway, in some way. Honestly, no one is as lucky as Bourdain climbing the walls of the world in awe. I would rather travel with just my backpack than work any day, I promise you. In the mean time, I welcome the baby steps needed to understand, peruse, and reflect on all things intriguing to me.
Yes, I am an aspiring world citizen of happiness. I am inspired. And so should you.