One September evening
“Babe, you’ve gotta hurry down there. We need to get this projector and screen set up before Michael gets home,” I yell, as I lean out the window from the master bathroom.
He looks at me, half exasperation and half amusement. I know that we have plenty of time before Michael is set to arrive at the airport from his first year away at college, but I foresee any amount of setbacks that will get in the way of the perfect evening I imagine.
“You just worry about Caleb and the other kiddos. I’ll get this done, just you see,” he says as he exaggeratedly flexes his biceps. I make a face and scrunch up my nose.
“Just get it done!” I yell back, barely hiding my dimpled smile as I walk back towards our kids’ study room.
Maddy and Mischa tentatively look up at me as I walk in before returning to their work. My two girls never gave me problems with their astounding work ethic. But Caleb has been misbehaving again, recently refusing to finish his Chinese and Russian worksheets.
Shawn is so much better at disciplining the kids than me, I thought. It was true. The kids knew how they could get me to do what they wanted… Or so I let them believe. I was more willing to offer sympathy to their emotions than their other father. Caleb really was being impossible today though, but the prospect of seeing Michael again opened me up to the idea of bribery.
“Caleb, finish your worksheets now and I’ll get you Moose Droppings from the airport.”
I saw his eyes perk up as his favourite sweet was mentioned. I walked by and ruffled his hair as he picked up his pencil again.
“Ewww, stop it daddy!” Caleb responded
“Maddy, Mischa, do you want daddy to get you guys anything?”
As I saw Michael walk out of the arrivals terminal, I couldn’t help but tear up as he headed towards us. He had stayed away for winter, spring, and most of summer break as he had taken on staggering amounts of responsibility in his extracurricular activities already. We were so proud of his involvement, in addition to him achieving stellar grades and maintaining his first serious relationship. I felt Shawn squeeze my hand lightly. He didn’t show it, but I knew how happy he was seeing our first born son come back home.
I suffered from a period of deep separation anxiety when Michael first moved away from home. Our family just hadn’t seemed complete anymore. It was not just me who felt it. Being at least five years older than any of his siblings and a loving brother meant that our three other kids both respected and missed Michael perhaps even more acutely than I did. If a higher being existed, I truly thanked him for giving our family Shawn, the steady rock that pulled us all through those early few weeks.
Michael seemed to forget about his luggage when he caught sight of us. I kissed him on his cheek as Shawn and I embraced him.
“Daddy, you’re going to have to stop doing that one day,” Michael quipped as he released us from his embrace.
We all laughed.
“Dad, daddy, this is Sarah.” Michael said, as the very pretty girl left by the luggage shyly approached us.
As I made the final touches to the arrangement of the lawn chairs, Shawn called out to the kids and Sarah. I shouldn’t have doubted Shawn’s skills with tech. The projector and speakers ran perfectly, and the oversized garden lanterns, decorative pillows, fleece blankets, and lawn chairs scattered around the white screen hanging from the brick façade of our house created a wonderful outdoor setting for our family screening of Disney’s Mulan. The crisp, clean, earthy September evening air of Vancouver also held up for us.
I turned and gave Shawn a light kiss as the kids took up their favourite positions around the backyard.
“You did a great job,” I whispered, wrapping my hands around his waist and hugging him closer. The man that, in my right time and right place, was the one for me. The man, that after twenty years together after our marriage, I still cherished as my life partner.
“Always. You and the kids mean everything.”
“Daddy, can I sit with you tonight?” Mischa asked, tugging at my shirt and looking up at Shawn and me with her bright, dark eyes. I picked her up and whirled her around, nuzzling my face against hers.
“Of course you can, chipmunk.” I knew that there would come a time when Mischa wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this anymore, so I treasured these moments I could spend with her now.
As Mulan started playing on the screen, I looked around at the soft white glare from the movie reflecting on us. Michael, with Sarah and Caleb on either side of him. Maddy, sprawled out on a blanket next to them with her head cupped in her hands. Mischa, on my lap and Shawn’s hand resting gently over mine. I sighed noiselessly as the oversized candles around us flickered against the starry sky.
So this is what bliss means.
September 7, 2014
Un mauvais rêve
Beaux recently messaged me again after a rather long hiatus of communication. As is the trend, I had gotten a bit confused with the status of what our relationship could be defined as. With him being in Hong Kong and me being in Vancouver, we both knew that it was impossible from the start. But he kept (unreciprocated-ly) flirting with me over the entire duration of our exchanges. When I finally called him out on it, asking him what exactly he wanted from this fantasy-like thought process he maintained, he got defensive and impossible to communicate with. Leading up to this point, the aura surrounding his extreme good looks, relative life success, and intimidating family background had already largely worn off. I found some elements in his personality so distasteful that he had already been banished to the recesses of my friend zone (if that). But the incident that came next irrefutably assured me that I would never take him seriously again.
One day, around 2AM his time, he sent me a message on Whatsapp blasting his doorman for daring to walk away from his post for 20 minutes (Beaux had forgotten to bring his own keycard for the front door). Very colourful language was used in describing both the doorman and his lack of work ethic, including the nouns, “motherfucker” and “piece of shit.” As early as high school, I would have the tendency to instinctively lend my sympathies to the weaker party in an argument, no matter who ultimately ended up as the erroneous party. From the tone of his messages he felt rather peeved that I took on a tone of cool indifference to his having to wait outside his apartment’s locked doors. In fact, I found this small annoyance in his life rather amusing, considering how much he had been given.
Not long after this incident, another angry message arrived about the same doorman, who had mistakenly turned on a water switch to his apartment while renovations were being conducted. This error resulted in a miniature waterworks adventure that destroyed and damaged countless documents/furniture in his home. I understood his anger and frustration. After all, if priceless childhood paintings and memories had been destroyed due to a man’s unprofessionalism and carelessness, how else is one supposed to react. However, what I was not prepared for were Beaux’s ill wishes on the man’s life and the sentiment that Beaux’s family would “sue him to hell.” I accordingly kept my tone neutral during this time. Not only did I think I would add nothing by fanning the flames of his anger, but his tone towards the doorman also reeked classically of the economic rich stomping all over the economically modest. I would have been more sympathetic to his anger had he expressed himself differently, but after this incident, I deleted his contact info off of my phone and only gave the most basic of replies to his subsequent messages. I figured that he had gotten the idea after our sparse messages devolved into a prolonged silence.
The very last straw came when Beaux messaged me for one last time while I was in San Francisco. Apparently he missed the sound of my voice, but I was also lonely exploring the bay area alone. Thus, our mindless superficial chatter started once again, until he (laughably) brought up the concept of how he was only attracted to “straight guys.” Shutthefuckup. I get how some gay men are more attracted to others who display stereotypically more masculine behaviours, but as y’all know, we have a rampant problem with internalized homophobia where ‘no sissy and no fems’ treads very close to the discourse of inferiority and hate. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but have you guys ever seen ‘no mascs please’? I get that being a gay man means that we are attracted to men, but what constitutes this ‘man’ is still very much dictated by a heteronormative society. Hence, these are labels that bother me, especially when you have the gall to claim that you only sleep with “straight guys.” #Irony
When I called him out on it, the following exchange occurred:
Disclaimer: by me “see[ing] many things in that kind of way,” he was referencing the earlier episodes of me choosing to remain neutral about his doorman-experience. He then went on to call me a know it all who didn’t understand anything and claiming that my belief in social justice was a farce. I got rid of our chat after that ended and will never speak to him again. I had nothing left to say to him and his personality makes it so that I will never even consider him as friend material. I may have only presented snippets of his personality, but I’ve found his selfishness and inconsideration for others unbearable over time, as ro-mantik can attest to. Sure, he has tons going for him, but those things are not enough to counterbalance qualities that I value in a human being, friend, or partner.
After five months, it is so long, farewell from me. Parts of you were a beauxtiful dream (I’m so punny =3), but a large part of your personality was truly ugly to me.
September 3, 2014
via Cop v. Black Guy
How come the stormtrooper did hit the target?
You sure he was aiming for the ice cream?
…that’s a good point
August 31, 2014
"My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude."
— Warsan Shire (via loveage-moondream)
(Source: afro-dominicano, via apoetreflects)
August 29, 2014
Oversaw an older white man fondling his younger asian partner/friend/rentgirl/plaything’s right breast while descending the escalator at Westfield Mall. O….Kay.
August 20, 2014
(Source: l-eth-e, via fantanny)
August 19, 2014
Sorry American airport security, but why would you want to make the life of an innocent Canadian lamb needlessly difficult?
Pros of being sent through the ‘random’ search line/not being cleared from the automatic customs machines: Yay! I get to budge in front of everyone and not wait another 30 minutes!
Cons: Get your hands off me. I don’t care how hot and muscular of a Pinoy airport security officer you are. My butt is sacred.
“Do you want to go to a private room?”
Hells to the no! At least here in front of all these people you’ll have to keep your molesting in check. Oh well. When it comes down to it, I’d rather be ‘patted down’ than have unnecessary X-rays blasted through my body. I’ll leave the airport porn fantasies to other people.
August 19, 2014
Nice thoughts challenge
Once you get this you have to say 5 nice things about yourself publicly and then send this to 10 of your favourite followers.
Tagged by ro-mantik
Sleuth – I have a really scary people-centric memory. I try to keep it hidden from most in real life, because people are naturally egocentric. They think that I somehow target them as an object of affection and start becoming scared of me. The thing is, I find it hard to forget details, emotions, or events related to their lives, because to me, everyone is honestly a special snowflake (feel free to throw up). Obviously, among those snowflakes, I esteem some more than others. My memory, mixed with my intuition, also makes it extremely difficult for people to lie to me over long periods of time. One inconsistent factoid is enough for sirens to start blaring in my mind.
Smell – On my recent roadtrip across America, I stopped for two nights in the house of a friend of a friend. The house itself was seemingly haunted and could only be described as ‘ratchet’ (raccoons living in the wall, decaying wood throughout the entire structure, garbage strewn all over the place, an ant infestation, etc…). However, the worst thing about my living situation was the fact that I was sleeping in a bed that reeked of body odour. Yes, he was a burly white jock. When I got home five days later, the shirt that I slept in still reeked of his stench. Despite the fact that I have light dusting of body hair, complete with a treasure trail, I got lucky with the scentless Asian genes. After going to the gym today, I stripped down to my underwear and took a prolonged nap before taking a shower. When I woke up, the sheets still smelled like ‘Spring Meadow.’
Soloist – I am a hopeless romantic and the notion of love is very appealing to me. I have never been in a serious relationship before, but I am quite a capable individualist. That lack of a partner, romantic or otherwise, never stopped me from going to the theatres or checking out a hip restaurant alone, despite my preference for one. I don’t know how I will view this (hypothetically) in twenty years if I am still single, but I would rather be alone with pets than ever settle for someone who I did not love.
Soul – I’ve always been a compassionate person. I am usually seen as calm and reserved, a trait seemingly reflected by my icy-exterior, but I am quite warm inside. Injustice, especially against those who are unable to fight back, ignites a forest fire inside of me. I find it hard to forgive people who have crossed my douche/insensitivity threshold.
Superficial – There are quite a few things I am not fond of in terms of my appearance, but there is one thing I wouldn’t switch out for the world. I love my dimples. To give you a reference point, mine are as deep as Mario Lopez’s when he smiles. It’s also a trait that also happens to join my mother, sister, and me together, so I appreciate that small, outward connection that we share.
Tagging… Oh my. I don’t think there are ten people I follow who haven’t done this challenge yet, but anyone who wants to do it should!
August 4, 2014
Are there any angry Asian-Dutch girls here? My name is Janet. I am a Chinese girl who’s born and raised in the Netherlands.
As an Asian minority living in a white community, I can relate to your personal stories. Since I was little, I’ve been called slit-eye and “poepchinees” (translated as “poop Chinese”, which is a normal Dutch word, sadly enough). When I was 11, I started my first day at a new school. Another kid on the playground yelled “Look, a Chinese. What the hell is a Chinese doing at our [white] school?” Such a warm welcome. One time, a random guy at a party asked me about Asian women’s sideways vaginas. I was angry, but my boyfriend at the time told me to “relax”’. He told me the guy was “not a racist and actually very nice”. Well, fuck you very much. Two guys once followed me down the street and kept shouting words like konnichiwa, happy ending and ching chong.
A lot of Dutch people think racism doesn’t exist in the Netherlands. They act like this country is “post-racial”. To them, every racist remark and microagression is “just a joke, lighten up”. Someone even said it’s “typical Dutch humor”.
There’s an old Dutch children’s song called “Hanky Panky Shanghai”. It’s basically a nonsensical song that mocks Asian languages. They might as well called it the Ching Chong Song. This video (1:14) shows little children internalizing “innocent” racism by singing it at a birthday party. The video is from 1997, but schools are still doing this. I would always cringe when they sang this at my elementary school. I didn’t understand why everyone (even the teacher) was mocking my language and my culture. The kids would pull their eyes back and say “This is how you talk right? And you don’t have to pull your eyes back, because your eyes are already slanty.”
Last year, a Chinese contestant on Holland’s Got Talent was ridiculed by the Dutch judge. This was exactly the racist shit I encounter every day. It made me angry that the Dutch media and people dismissed the racism. To them, it’s “an innocent joke”. This was it. Enough is enough. Then, a lot happened:
I wrote an article about dealing with racism as an Asian in the Netherlands, which got published in a big Dutch newspaper (NRC). I also created the platform “Number 39 With Rice”, a Facebook-page that attracted 4,000+ likes in a few days (it may not sound much haha, but The Netherlands has a small population of only 16 million people). My platform attracted attention from the media and I was invited to a very well-known Dutch television show to talk about racism (which garnered 1 million live viewers). It felt amazing to stand up for myself and others. A month later, 39 Chinese restaurants reacted to the racism by offering a 39% discount to their menu item number 39. The Asian-Dutch community finally spoke up.
After that, I’ve got a lot of hate mail from white people who told me to “go back to my own country if I don’t like it here”. I should be able to “take a joke”. Even a few Asians told me to shut up and not cause a “stir”. Fuck that.
My biggest inspirations were my Asian-American sisters, like AAGU, Fascinasian, Angry Girl Comics, Kristina Wong and Jenny Zhang from Rookie. Although the hate crime rates in the US are much higher than in The Netherlands, to me the US is a place where minorities can stand proud and fight back. I would love to study a semester in the US en meet Asian-American sisters who are also proud and loud. We don’t have Asian organisations in the Netherlands that speak up against racism. Growing up, I’ve never had empowering Asian rolemodels. I felt lonely and blamed myself for being “too sensitive” when someone called me slit-eye. And now, on my platform, other Asians tell me they admire my fire. I feels good to be a rolemodel and inspire others to stand up for themselves. No, you shouldn’t be silent when someone mocks you language, culture and heritage. Tell them they’re rude, or re-appropriate stereotypes by telling them “Yes indeed, my mother’s maiden name is Ching Chang Chong” or “That waitress in the Chinese restaurant is my sister” (something I’ve learned from Jenny Zhang). Be ahead of the game, show them how ridiculous stereotypes are and most of all: stand proud.
After everything I’ve done for the Dutch Asian community, there are still days where I feel powerless and just want to bury my head in the sand. It sucks to deal with racism. It sucks to think about it. Till the day I die, I will encounter racist assholes. My children will have to deal with them, and their children, and so on.
Most Dutch Asians would rather be silent, suck it up and “stand above it”. But they’re not standing above it. They’re ignoring racism and rather act as the “model minority”. Although they say they admire my guts, they do not want to stand up against racism. I feel different, as if I don’t belong with the white AND Asian people.
Yesterday, it hit me. I felt lonely as hell. I love my Dutch friends. But no matter how much they tell me they support me, they will never truly understand how it feels to be Asian in a white community. I have always been the only non-white person in my friend groups. I really need to go out there and find more Asian friends. I need my brothers and sisters. I can not fight this battle alone.