the boy with bony hands and calluses on his fingertips loves
the girl he calls perfection
a true angel
and feels unworthy of her
he says “i’m monstrous”
he sees his chapped lips
(the bottom one chewed on when she is around)
and bruised elbows
(from spinning into sharp corners to hide)
she says “you’re beautiful”
just look at your warm hands
(carving secret messages out of steel strings)
and your pink lips
opening to reveal barking laughter
(not to mention the warm embrace you give your mother
when you show her your science fair medal and she cries)
you never saw yourself until you saw yourself in her eyes
and so for the
since you met her
Those who are important to me are lighthouses in my universe; my boat traverses seas and monsters and sirens, guided by the faint beams through the fog. I am thrown out of the boat and salt stings my eyes but the glowing light on shore keeps me fighting towards the surface. When at last I break the surface there is nothing but clear skies and the fog has passed. But I know my lighthouses will be there when it grows dark once more.
Now that I am in my last year of high school I feel I am in that tiny boat fighting against everything out in the world but I was reminded today that I am still tethered to the dock, so to speak, by someone important to me. She said, “Don’t forget to email me once in awhile once you’re at university”. Very casual, not trying to pressure me but just a teasing comment. I realized that I might be going out into the unknown, but I am not the only one with changing circumstances. It’s not only the ones leaving who are affected, but those who are left behind.
I told her I wouldn’t forget. After all… “When new sights grow old, and I start to feel cold, I’ll sail home again”.
I am a Chinese Canadian. My parents were immigrants from Hong Kong and I was born in Canada. I have only been to Hong Kong and China once in my life.. I can’t really read or write Chinese. I can speak Cantonese well but my Mandarin leaves something to be desired. (I am taking classes though. I’m trying.) I know Chinese values and customs but I am more comfortable with Western/Canadian ones. And when I travel, the most annoying thing to me is being mistaken as a “Chinese tourist”.
I am not ashamed of being Chinese; just ashamed of the stereotypes of Chinese tourists. The Chinese are prone to clumping together in large, loud groups. In every major city, Chinese tour guides can be found leading packs of Chinese tourists wearing fanny packs and carrying many, many cameras. They have the reputation of being brash and oblivious to the customs of others. Even in places meant for quiet worship there will inevitably be Chinese tourists speaking as if they were in the Super Bowl stadium during the last touchdown.
On my latest vacation, these stereotypes followed me everywhere. One example that stands out in my mind is when I wanted to get an English audio guide for a museum. The following exchange actually happened:
ME: *waits in line to get an audio guide* Hello.
EMPLOYEE AT MUSEUM: Do you want me to program it in Chinese?
M: No. I wan–
m: No, I–
E: *very puzzled* What language do you speak?
M: English. Can I have it in English?
E: No way! Where do you come from?
M: *thinks: are you kidding me* I’m Canadian, I’m from Canada.
How can this kind of thing still happen? The man didn’t even let me speak and kept cutting me off, sure that he knew what language I spoke/listened to. He couldn’t comprehend that I spoke, *gasp* English.
I am so frustrated with this kind of thing happening everywhere I go. Do I need to make a t-shirt that says “I KNOW ENGLISH” or “I AM FROM CANADA, NOT CHINA” to make this clear to others?! I don’t want to be so frustrated but I can’t help it. It’s so annoying to have to deal with this in 2013. Everyone wants to say that POC are no longer being treated differently. The fact is, though, that the world hasn’t really changed all that much. I wish people would be better about these things. I like being Chinese, but I hate these stereotypes.
This is something I have been thinking a lot about this month so I want to read your opinions. Please comment what you think if you have some time!
I’m starting my senior year of high school on Wednesday! I’m quite weary of how it’s going to go down unlike the three previous years. As I still don’t know what I want to do with my life I am following the business/commerce route for now. It is interesting but I am not sure it is where I belong. Unfortunately my heart lies towards the humanities. I am, after all, still the same kid as the me in kindergarten who spent hours reading in the corner while everyone else coloured out of the lines. My lower lip stings from all the worried biting I have been doing this week. That might be one of my worse and most telling anxiety habits. I have three binders full of loose leaf paper so I can draw and calm down if need be. My new ten cents (THANKS STAPLES!) notebooks are ready to be tossed around and filled with homework and notes. My pencils–I refuse to write for long periods of time with pens unless it’s for official purposes–are poised and sharpened. I have scheduled every last moment into my Google Calendar, including sleep. The one thing I can’t control is my classmates and I just pray to whoever is out there that I have good ones. Too bad the classes I know I will do the best in are going to be in semester two. My university applications may suffer a bit because of that. But I don’t want to get into university applications just yet, that’s a whole other nightmare for another time. Literally nightmare, because I have had three in a row about university already.
I’ve been reading a lot lately. Books, blogs, newspapers, you name it. I’ve also been thinking about the future again. (Yeah, I can already hear you saying “Tiffany, that’s all you ever do, isn’t it?” Yeah. So what?) In all of my reading and thinking I noticed the theme of fear. What is the news but a series of events, either extremely positive (this person invented something awesome!) or extremely negative (yet another bomb in a waring country)?
What I’ve come to realize is that I don’t need to fear the future. I used to, like, be super worried. Now I think about what skills I have, who I am, my values and I think it’s going to be okay. I’m still nervous but the anxiety is settling down somewhat.
Just in time for the start of my senior year. One very fundamental part of me is my genuine interest in everything. If you start a conversation with me, I have a genuine interest in what you are telling me. You know how people will say “so-and-so makes such a big deal out of everything so-and-so comes across”? That’s me. If everyone could slow down and appreciate things, I think this world would be a better place. I truly believe everyone has something to offer and why not hear them out? You never know what you’ll discover.
People say it’s bad to meet strangers on the Internet but guess what: I’ve met three really amazing people that I’m happy to call friends. Even though I have never talked to them face to face I know that I could meet up with them if I ever travel to their corners of the world. Taking an interest in these people have expanded my horizons and altered the way I think about interactions between people. I am a much better person for it.
About the post on family I posted? This ties into that as well. There’s no need to hang on to people who bring you down. Your time in this world is limited so surround yourself with the people you love and try to be the best person you can. You may not be able to choose how people see you but you can choose how you view the world. That’s my advice for everyone. Now fly free, my pretties!
Yeah…couldn’t resist throwing in that reference.
Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house: Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic
Ronald and I stared at the house crumbling in front of us; his left hand tapping on the steering wheel, his right scratching his cheek. As he pulled to a stop, I took a Kleenex and started rubbing at the handle. His car was filled with old hot dog crumbs, candy wrappers and empty cans of root beer. I was glad to get out. When I slammed the car door, flakes of the decades-old paint fell to the gravel under my feet.
“Watch it!” He snapped. The paint on Ronald’s door didn’t fare much better when he got out as well. We both looked at the broken in door. In fact, every single window was open to the point where we could stand directly in front of the house and see right out the back door: to the cornfield and skeletal birds dotting the pale early-evening sky.
“No wonder Mom and Dad broke up. Look at the state of the place, huh?” I could see Ronald wasn’t as amused as I was. This place was the dumps.
“I bet you’re so glad they got divorced so you can live your fancy life in the suburbs.”
I snorted. “If you hate the suburbs so much why don’t you move back out here? Middle-O’-Nowhere. Population: You.”
“Go to hell,” Ronald replied. He turned back to the car. “I dunno why I even wanted to come here, lets just go home.”
I didn’t say anything because there was nothing left to say. We drove away, and we never looked back. The only thing left there, anyway, was the ghost of the happy family that we once were.
How you lived in the past may not determine your future
But it does change the road to your destiny.
It doesn’t really matter what people say
Because all paths are converging.
You will get there in the end.
There is no failure.