loopychew: (Default)
It must've been Sunday that I was on the bus back to the train station, because I was going home to pick up for the imminent arrival of a friend from Summit (aka Preppyville). For about three stops, I found myself sitting across from an elderly gentleman, Caucasian by the looks of it, dressed in an Buddhist monk's garb. When he noted I spoke English, he asked me, in a thickly American accent -- "Ni jiang zhongwen ma?" -- "Do you speak Chinese?"

Actually, he had to repeat it twice for me, his accent was so strong. I kind of stared at him blankly, trying to decide what to say. In my flat-American-accented, notably nasal English, I responded, "A bit."

I didn't respond in English to make a point; it was just what came naturally to me. He further inquired as to why I was using primarily English; I responded that I was brought up in the United States, and that we were the only Chinese family in town. (Which was true; there were few other Eastern Asian families in Summit, and although another family friend of ours had a father from Hong Kong, they viewed themselves as mostly Korean--at least, as far as I know.) After a few more questions about my knowledge of the Chinese language (in short, my limited Mandarin and practical illiteracy--I could only make out that the bag he wielded was branded with a conference which took place in August 2003), he eyed me a little, with one of those unseen-but-felt glares of resentment, then told me that I'd make an excellent example of the deculturalization of America, and that he was going to be holding a talk about this at some seminar of his, and that I should come. I accepted the yellow scrap of A4 paper he gave me and pocketed it for further reference, and said good-bye as I got off the bus at Cornavin.

The more I think about it, the more I think about the hypocrisy of a white man dressed in Buddhist garb and attempting to speak butchered Mandarin reprimanding a Chinese-American for not respecting his roots. Obviously I could be wrong--perhaps he was raised in China (with that accent? Doubtful), or maybe a Chinese household. But my money is still on this guy discovering Buddhism while reading texts in college, finding it fascinating, and deciding to become a devout follower of Siddhartha Gautama's teachings. I'm not saying that's a bad thing--people do what they will when religion is involved, and it's all fine and well as long as it doesn't involve hurting others--but still. What're the odds that he went to Sunday School as a wee lad, celebrated Christmas with his buddies and hunted for Easter eggs in the early Spring? Pretty damn high. Working on that assumption (because it's just that--an assumption), what right does such a person have to foster judgment on "loss of cultural heritage" when he has dumped his own?

I'm proud of my Chinese heritage. I'm apparently in the narrow line of descendants of Chu Hsi, a major character in the founding of the Neo-Confucianist philosophy--or so my father would have me believe. (Besides which, I would think that "Narrow line" still involves thousands of people in our current generation. And reading that Wiki entry, I could identify with his philosophy.) I'm the only one of my three brothers who can speak Mandarin with any sort of fluency, although Jamie was always better at understanding it than I was. I do believe that I lack the kind of cultural heritage I believe I should have--but that judgment is mine, and mine alone, to make.

***

It gets demonstrated again, two days later, as I walk along the lakeside from work to a bus stop. I stumble upon a confused-looking Chinese couple, pondering a map and looking around.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that my ability to speak Mandarin is directly related to my familiarity with the other people in the conversation, as well as the language I perceive them in. This is why, for example, I can hold decent conversations with my mother and grandmother, am Extremely Hesitant to speak with my father, can hold my own for a couple of minutes with one of the barmaids at Cactus, and will completely lose it after asking a lost couple, "Wo kebukeyi bang ni mang ma?" ("Can I help you?")

They tell me that they're looking for Cornavin station, referring to it with the German acronym SBB amongst a flurry of Mandarin. Their side comes easily to me. I open my mouth to tell them that they need to turn back and turn left at the Arab bank, and then realize that I've never given directions in Mandarin before. Panicking, I start spitting and swallowing words, using broken Mandarin and frustrated hand gestures, and muttering to myself about not being able to speak "guoyu," which literally translates to "the National Language" and is not an official way of referring to Mandarin. (Is it Taiwanese? I dunno, and it seems kinda ironic if it is.)

Eventually, they do get the idea; they end up thanking me and going their way. I probably-not-so-subtly wait at a crosswalk and cross over to the lakeside proper, basically trying to get as far away from my butchery of the National Language as I possibly could.

The more I think about it, the more it gnaws at me.

I am an Asian-American. I hesitate to say "American first," not because of my disrespect for my American upbringing, but because of my respect for my Chinese heritage. But it must be said; when asked with which of the two I identify more, I will unhesitatingly say "American." But, again, do not make the mistake of panning my being proudly American as an attempt to discard the scraps of Chinese upbringing with which I have been brought up.

It wouldn't matter, anyway; I think my guilt is a harsher judge than anything you could throw at me.
loopychew: (Default)
So, having dragged myself into work after a fantastic Franz Ferdinand concert last night (possible writeup later, but not too likely), I open up my friends page and discover about more bombings in London.

Boy, these terrorists sure are taking this "failures are just deferred successes" thing seriously, aren't they?
loopychew: (Default)
Not-unattractive girl next to me, watching me dance in full suit (including jacket): Aren't you baking, dancing like that? You're making me hot!

Me: Thanks. I need more women telling me that.
loopychew: (Default)
A man named "Botha" has just e-mailed our service desk a note reading, "Thank you for this information [regarding a how-to doc on mailbox maintenance]." You don't know how tempted I am to reply, "No problem, sir. Many Bothas died to get you that information."
loopychew: (Default)
I've apparently started up a band in Canada called "The Adopted," under the name Cheetah Davy Lai behind the backs of all my compatriots at "Gondor Calls for Aid." The proof?

Me.

Cheetah.

Cheetah.

Me.

I am slightly disappointed by the designer of my webpage, however.
loopychew: (Default)
Discussing hard drives:

Me: Two 40GBs, and one's an iPod.
[livejournal.com profile] daemi0n: rofl
[livejournal.com profile] daemi0n: you need a sticker for your lappy
[livejournal.com profile] daemi0n: "My other 40GB is an iPod."
loopychew: (Default)
How DO you count the number of gifts your true love gave to you over the twelve days of Christmas? (Written and debugged in about fifteen minutes this morning, most of that figuring out the one statement I commented on.)

*cracks up*

May. 5th, 2004 06:00 pm
loopychew: (Default)
Okay, so you've probably seen links to the Nickelback stereo mix song page. I was playing the mix for Genc when one of our regular Wolfenstein players overhears, and goes, "Hey, Nickelback! I LOVE that song!"

To which I replied, "Which one?"

Insert awkward pause filled with Nickelback stereo goodness.

EDIT: After listening to [livejournal.com profile] laechim talk, I tried making the mix myself. It doesn't sync the way the aforementioned Nickelback Stereo Mindfuck does. The two songs are edited from the original versions--both had about eight measures removed from different spots, and Someday changed key and was sped up to match the mix. I still stick to my belief that, at the very least, it's hilarious as hell.

Plus, another argument as to how similar the two songs sound echoes in my mind from an earlier conversation, when I ran into the girl from the bookstore on the train. Planning on showing this to her, I asked her if she knew and/or liked Nickelback. She said something along the lines of, "Yeah, the one that goes 'how the hell did we end up like this?'" I asked her if she heard their other single, the one that went, "This is how you remind me," and she exclaimed, "yeah, THAT'S the one I like!"

Even if the eating of this pudding is doctored proof, I stand by my original conclusion.
loopychew: (Default)
Genc e-mailed this to me; apparently, an American friend of his was arrested for protesting. On US soil. I think it's something worth reading, and if anyone here knows what protest action this is and can link me to anything about it, I'd appreciate it.

I write on behalf of an American, Erica Weitzman... )
loopychew: (Default)
Don't. Everyone's lives contain conflict; it's a simple matter of disclosure.

I was originally planning on mentioning this as gently as possible sometime in the future, because it's true, and I know a few people who envy other people their simple, happy LJ tales. However, because of recent developments of the past few hours in our household, it's coming out a bit differently from the way I was expecting it to, and I've decided to post it now to get it off of my chest.

Think of it this way: There are a lot of people whose LJs are full of angst. These people are not necessarily depressed and angry all the time; it just happens that they don't feel the need to talk about things until they get really upset. Now, logically, if there are people out there that are living all right lives but post angstly LJs, there're likely to be people who don't have a very good life, but happen to post when their emotions tend to be positive, so they can pass their happiness along.

Everyone's lives, no matter what they show outside, are riddled with life's highs and lows. Just because people don't mention anything but one or the other does not mean the other side does not exist, little or large. It's a simple matter of balance. I tend to have a happy/silly LJ, but that's because I don't enjoy discussing particularly unpleasant things at length. If I do post an angry/depressed post, I tend to make'em either short, or full of self-analysis. Hell, I just posted one of the latter a few minutes ago. But look at the very first entry in my LJ--back when it was still public. What was it? An entry about a funeral. The funeral of an older brother I loved to no end, a brother who loved me to no end, and who met his untimely demise thanks to a shitty seatbelt, an aggressive driver, shotgun seat statistics, SUV design, and bad luck, one hot day on a highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Does that sound like a pleasant life to you? I assure you, it can be, but there are times when I just feel so deep down in the shitter I wanna get away from it all. I've already established my intent never to commit suicide, but sometimes running off and exploring Europe with nothing but limited access to money, a notebook, a sketchpad, various utensils, and my computer sound like a good option.

Still, instead of running off to explore the romantic side of Europe, I'm here in my room, pecking away at my keyboard. I could say I was doing this as a matter of seeing if I could tough it out; however, that's not entirely true. Nor is it that I'm doing this solely because I don't know how my parents would react, though that's probably a factor. More than likely? I'm a lazy ass. Too tired, too depressed to do much beyond IRCing all day, slacking around a computer lab, eating, and getting away from life, one game of Dance Dance Revolution at a time.

I'm not a miserable man, by any means. I'm actually pretty happy about my life. I just appear to be caught up in a bad mood, and posting it publically, for the first time in a long while. See? We're human, too. And by no means flawless.

Remember that, when you think of your life. Do not envy others their happiness, because they are having, have had, or will have the same bad times as you are going through. And, eventually, nature's law of balance will pick up again, and you'll be thrust back into good times.
loopychew: (Default)
Seven people in the US skies died today, as the space shuttle Columbia exploded on its way to landing in Florida.

At least forty people in Zimbabwe died today, as a freak accident sent a passenger train on a collision course with a freight train full of flammable liquid.

Me? How can I feel anything but sorrow for all those people who died? And how can I not use these people's memories to strengthen the will to live?

With every innocent death I learn of, I grow a little stronger. Not in a physical sense, but the sense of resolution. As should we all, I believe.

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