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December goals.

Who writes goals a month before the New Year?

Apparently a lot of people.

But I get it – it’s a satisfying feeling to start off a new year knowing you’ve accomplished exactly as you wanted the past month rather than hoping you’d accomplish alllll these things for the next year.

(We all know how well those New Year’s Resolutions stick.)

So here it is, my December goals:

  • Finish Yellow by Frank Wu.
  • Finish Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
  • Do a 6 mile run once a week.
  • Picture book.

I used to be a big fan of the under-promise, overachieve outlook, but then I realized that by holding myself to lower standards, it was making me under-perform.

Let’s get out of the rut for 2016, but until then, I have December to think about.

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The Joy Luck Club

It’s amazing how well Amy Tan captures the struggle of growing up Asian American.

From the mothers’ fears of their daughters losing touch with their cultures to the daughters’ frustration, shame, and guilt – it’s hard not to see our own childhood being echoed in this book.

Here’s an excerpt from a scene that really struck me. June’s mother just passed away and her aunties asked her to tell her estranged half-sisters about their mother. But June Woo doesn’t know what to say or how to say it:

“What will I say? What can I tell them about my mother? I don’t know anything. She was my mother.”

“Imagine, a daughter not knowing her own mother!”

And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds “joy luck” is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.

If you’re interested, my updated reading list is here.

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From C to A.

Can we ever understand who we are if we never understand where we came from?

It’s a beautiful day and my dad, sister, and I were just having lunch.

Though our family always eat together, meals have unwittingly become interruptions rather than breaks. My sister and I usually polish our plates quickly, eager to return to our computers or books.

But today, we had some tea and talked about my family’s immigration journey.

My grandfather’s younger brother came to America first to escape the Cultural Revolution. He was detained at Angel Island for a year before stepping foot on American soil. When he finally entered, he brought over his older brother. My grandfather brought over his three children. A wedding and two years of romantic letters later, my mom then brought over my dad.

You know that your parents have had it hard – it’s a fact of life. Rarely, however, do my parents complain. When I was younger, I was upset that they didn’t show me affection the same way American families did – with hugs, I-love-you’s, and packed lunches.

But

they moved across an ocean for us. Left all that was familiar for the chance that future generations would have a better life. They didn’t go back to China when life was unbearable.

Can any sacrifice I make ever demonstrate that level of love?

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Dessert & details.

gallery---david

“Ok, now laugh!”

Without ice cream, there would be darkness & chaos.

This past week, my friend David Leong invited me to hang out with him as he did an Instagram shoot!

Armed with a camera and darn good ice cream, we began our journey –

Walking through Hayes Valley, he taught me how to find quaint and joyful details in every sidewalk. (glass windows! blue doors! flower bushes!) I really loved his perspective on everyday colors and objects and I hope you ladies & gentlemen might like his work too!

(He let me be his model for the day – so here are some fun portraits~)

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It’s just how I talk.

Even things that are meant to empower, might cause harm.

A while back, my friend had shared this article on how a former Google exec noticed that women use the word “just” significantly more often than men. She called this a “subtle message of subordination, of deference” and encouraged women reading the article to change the way they talk to show confidence and assertiveness. Empowering.

I guess.

Similar to how female candidates running for office are commented more on their appearances than their campaign, articles like this one focus more on teaching women how to talk rather than what to talk about.

“Women say ‘sorry’ too much.”

“Women need to speak up more.”

“Women overuse ‘like’ and ‘just’.”

When I read these type of articles, I initially think them empowering. But I start becoming self-conscious – am I projecting weakness when I interact with my peers?

Frustration replaces anxiety: do my ideas and opinions become invalid so easily? This is not how I enjoy interacting with others, why do I have to assert myself like an alpha-male to earn respect?

Why can’t people focus on what I say instead of how I’m saying it?

“With men, we listen for what they’re saying, their point, their assertions. Which is what all of us want others to do when we speak. With women, we tend to listen to how they’re talking, the words they use, what they emphasize, whether they smile.”

– Robin Lakoff, Linguistics Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley

I want the right way of talked be my way of talking. If I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, I rather be damned being myself.

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Yellow parka ranger.

I’ve only ever had one raincoat in my life. It was navy blue with a pink trim and in its pockets held everything I hated about the world at age 10. Very dramatic.

One rainy and depressingly gray morning, I saw a lady in a big yellow raincoat, standing out like a sore thumb in a sea of black and blue. Maybe she was in a rush and grabbed the first thing she saw. Maybe it was her only raincoat too.

Or maybe she was just the coolest person in the entire world and wanted to reflect that in every moment of her life.

My childhood dreams consisted of plans to take over the world,

& in that moment I knew I wanted to rule in riveting yellow.

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The SCOTUS decision.

On June 26, 2015, denying same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional in the United States!

As with any major decision by our government, this both sparked immediate joy and a whole lot of rage.

What is my response to this?

On one hand, I feel immense happiness – it’s a victory in the war against inequality. Truly, I believe that our Constitution pushes for equality for all & this battle’s win is one step closer (though definitely not the end-game) towards a more just nation.

But my mind’s battlefield raged on in the background of the city’s jubilance. I planned on ignoring the small voices in my mind. I didn’t want to bring these questions to surface, terrified I would dislike the answer.

But,

as we know, God had his own plans & met with me instead in two places.

The first came in the form of John – though I was trying to turn a blind eye, I find that he’s someone who runs right into things, searching for answers. He shared this post: Jesus at a Gay Wedding. It resonated with me and reminded me of the God that I had fallen in love with: a loving God that wants to get to know His children badly.

The point of the Gospel is not to make everyone uniform. The point of the Gospel is to transform people into emissaries of Jesus who can live out lives surrendered to him through unique cultural lenses. The Gospel should influence us to live lives so radical, that others will see Jesus in our actions and say “Yes, I want some of that too.” While we may differ in theological perspectives, what we absolutely cannot diverge from is the reconciliation of all peoples to God. There is always room at the table for more people and the way people join the table is through love.

The second is when I prayed and searched for an answer on my own and landed on the beginning of the book of Ezekiel. As I continue to read about Ezekiel being sent to the stubborn, prideful, and rebellious nation of Israelites, I am reminded of the God of justice, a justice that only He can bring. As His children, we are not called to judge, instead we are called to be messengers of His word.

No good answers are immediate, but if the country had hundreds of years, surely I can bide my time as well.

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